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Entries below appear in order of publication.
For specific topics and Books In Progress see the sidebar's Blog Subjects.

Reflection: Grownup Coloring Books, All the Rage

Reflection: Grownup Coloring Books, All the Rage
by Brenda Wilbee

Rain slides down the windows. My sisters and I are at the kitchen table, coloring. We’re chatting.

“Do you know where the silver is?” Tresa might ask.

“No,” I might say.

Linda might find it on the floor. Maybe she rummages through the 300 million crayons we keep in a Peak Freans cookie tin; most with rounded noses, peeling paper, and smelling of wax and something else perfectly and gloriously wonderful.

“What are you going to color silver?” is something I might ask.

The point is, coloring was a way for my sisters and I to enjoy each other’s company on a rainy afternoon and apparently exercise our brains, find focus, calm down, and choose colors that can heal. In recent years, adult coloring has become quite the “thing.”

So what’s the deal?

Memoir: On Making Stuff Up

Memoir: On Making Stuff Up
by Brenda Wilbee
"Your writing strength is scene, Brenda," so says Laura Kalpakian, a mentor of sorts. "Play to your strengths. You've zipped right through this narrative. What does the courtroom look like? Who's there? What is being said?"

The thing is, I didn't want to overly dwell on my great-great-grandfather and his day in court. I only wanted to establish the faith of grandfathers as a long-standing heritage that both helped and hindered me. Besides, Sarratt, England, doesn't and didn't have a court house. The village is a hole-in-the-wall about 30 miles NW of London and I'm not really sure where the hearing took place. More to the point, do I really want to make a scene of it?

Sweetbriar Updated and Illustrated: Chap 1

Sweetbriar Updated and Illustrated: Chap 1
by Brenda Wilbee
Louisa tried to pray, but the words came hard. She wasn’t accustomed to kneeling at her bed fully clothed, and thoughts of her plans kept interrupting. It felt even stranger to be lying in bed with her shoes on, the blankets piled high. But she couldn’t run the risk of Ma coming in and finding her dressed. The blankets would have to stay.

i am engaged

i am engaged
by Brenda Wilbee

FIFTY YEARS AGO, flu had been going around the small Southern Baptist college I attended. I was ill, running a temperature; nonetheless, I’d been dragged off to church. Sunday night. Halloween. Full moon. Service finally over, the man I’d reluctantly been dating turned off Camelback Road of Phoenix, Arizona, onto the college campus. But instead of driving straight on and taking the road that ran out to the girls’ dormitory, Norris made an immediate right and came to a stop outside the library—a hunkered down building of stone that sat square on its haunches to stare through blank windows onto a circular fountain eerily stark and empty. Water turned off for winter.

“What are you doing?”

Meet Narcissa: Chap1, Scene A

Meet Narcissa: Chap1, Scene A
by Brenda Wilbee
The day I met Dr. Whitman, a heavy bank of silver cloud threatened snowfall, pressing low over the house Father had built for us on the forest edge outside of Amity, Allegany County, Western New York State. A house similar to the one he'd built us in Prattsburg, where I'd grown up. He in fact used the same blueprints, giving a sensation of new—yet old and familiar. White clapboard. Green shutters. A narrow porch along the front. A house so new the floorboards had yet to complain. Indoors, fires crackled behind their hearths—parlor excepted. This was being cleaned. But on its mantle and throughout the house lamplight flickered a happy yellow. In the kitchen, heavy condensation beaded the muntins of Mother’s twelve-pane window positioned above the sink while my bread, divided into six loaf pans, fluffed under tea towels atop the cast iron stove. More than the regular baking had to be done today. Prayer concert was at our house tonight and all was a flurry. Dr. Whitman would be here.

I had mixed feelings about the affair...

Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth
by Brenda Wilbee

She Could Out Pray and Out Preach White Patriarchy 
Born a slave in 1797​​​​ on the estate of Colonel Johannes Hardenbergh Jr. - a Revolutionary War hero and wealthy landowner 95 miles north of New York City - Isabella (Belle) was born child #9 to James Baumfree and Elizabeth Bett. She carried no memory of her older siblings; the Colonel had a habit of selling them off. Nor did she remember the Colonel. She was a toddler when he died in 1799.

She did remember his son...

Fugitive Slave Law, Last Straw

Fugitive Slave Law, Last Straw
by Brenda Wilbee
I DIDN’T KNOW when I wrote Sweetbriar that the Boren, Latimer, and Denny families of Cherry Grove, IL, were part of the Underground Railroad and that passage of the Fugitive Slave Law in 1850 was a determining factor in their decision to leave. For everyone in Cherry Grove, three miles south of the main station in Galesburg, IL, this was something of a problem. I’ve added this new information, and even though I might be a little foot loose with the dates, the truth remains...

Justice and Silence. An Unintentional Lesson.

Justice and Silence. An Unintentional Lesson.
by Brenda Wilbee

“Why did you make Santa’s nose that color?” Jerry jeered.

My six-year-old self stiffened, helpless against the red-headed, freckle-faced boy who sat in the desk ahead of me. Daddy had told me Jerry taunted because he liked me. A terrible worry. If boys made fun of you when they liked you, what did they do if they didn’t? I stared at the cherry red crayon in my hand, fire in my cheeks.


“Santa’s nose isn’t cherry!” he sneered. I instantly felt everyone turn to stare and fell to my usual frantic prayer: Jesus, open a hole so I can fall in.


Invisible, no one could hurt me.

An Unheard of Journey for a Woman

An Unheard of Journey for a Woman
by Brenda Wilbee

A LONG TIME AGO, "The Oregon" of North America’s mid-Pacific Coastline was a far-away region jointly accupied by England and America. England’s Hudson’s Bay Company had been there forever and over the years various American companies arrived, all vying for furs provided by native tribes. To The Oregon, then, is where Narcissa headed in 1836 to be a missionary, traveliing with her new husband and, unexpextedly, her old nemesis—bitter because Narcissa had once refused his hand. Awkward...

Grace and Grit

Grace and Grit
by Brenda Wilbee

GRACE AND GRIT MIGHT WELL HAVE BEEN THE NAMES of these two Van Buren sisters. My guess is you've never heard of Augusta and Adeline - Gussie and Addie as they preferred to be called.

We want to. 

The Lone Woman of San Nicholas

The Lone Woman of San Nicholas
by Brenda Wilbee
A WOMAN KNOWN ONLY as the Lone Woman has a story we cannot know. Yet we try.

She was born on San Nicholas Island off the coast of Santa Barbara’s Channel Islands in the early 1800s, a small outcropping of sandstone and sea mist, home to the Nicoleño for millennia. In 1835, the Catholic Church rounded up those who remained, but she got left behind. Subsequent searches found no trace of her. She was given up for dead and became the legendary Lone Woman.... Until found in 1853.

Why I Wrote Taming the Dragons

Why I Wrote Taming the Dragons
by Brenda Wilbee

I’m excited about the resurrection of my 1992 book Taming the Dragons: Powerful Choices for Women in Conflict and Pain. July 2020, it’s back in print but with some changes:

1) updated,
2) more stories,
3) journaling pages, and 
4) questions designed for self-reflection that can also be used in group discussions. 

Taming the Dragons is a book for women in conflict and pain, but also for anyone going through a rough patch, in transition, or just down on their luck. I name six choices we can all make when up against the dragons in our way, depending on what they are. I partner six women from the Bible with the Wizard of Oz, perhaps the most endearing fairy tale of our day, to illustrate what these choices are and how they work. I then tell ten short stories of women who have made these choices to better their lives and the lives of those around them. But why did I write the book?

To answer that question, I’d like to tell you a story from my childhood.

First Chapter: Taming the Dragons

First Chapter: Taming the Dragons
by Brenda Wilbee
ONCE upon a time … the raging dragon … a hero and a damsel in distress. Remember the old fairy tales? Prince Charming and Sleeping Beauty and happily ever after? It was always that way in our bedtime stories. But what about real life? What’s happened to our happily ever after? Daily we live under the dragon’s fire: we can hardly conceive of victory.

A Virulent Scourge and the Death of George Floyd

A Virulent Scourge and the Death of George Floyd
by Brenda Wilbee
The death of George Floyd a few days ago touches on a virulent problem I first encountered as a skinny, 12-year-old white girl immigrating to the United States. We moved to Ann Arbor, MI, 30 miles outside Detroit, MI, during the race riots and civil rights movement back in the mid-1960s. A budding writer, I cut my teeth on the craft by writing essays and articles, enraged and impassioned by all that I saw and heard and experienced.

TAMING THE DRAGONS: Lucy, Uncle Tom's Cabin

TAMING THE DRAGONS: Lucy, Uncle Tom's Cabin
by Brenda Wilbee
Sometimes we use I Corinthians 10:13 to deny the power of evil, and in doing so we let evil reign. Interpreting the word “temptation” to mean circumstances or events or crushing stress rather than what it does mean—temptation to do wrong—we blind ourselves to people whose burdens really are too heavy to bear. Erroneously assured in our minds that God will not allow too much stress to accumulate in a neighbor’s life, we sit back and allow our neighbor to suffer more than he or she can withstand.

TAMING THE DRAGONS: Mary, 1989

TAMING THE DRAGONS: Mary, 1989
by Brenda Wilbee
“I awoke shortly after midnight, and within minutes I’d been shot in the head.” Mary was asleep in bed with her three-and-a-half-year-old son when an intruder broke into her home through a bathroom window.

Taming the Dragons: Mary, Mother of Jesus

Taming the Dragons: Mary, Mother of Jesus
by Brenda Wilbee

WAS MARY, fiance of Joseph, at the well in Nazareth when the stranger approached? Or was she washing butter, packing it into earthen vessels? What was she doing when a man she’d never seen before said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

I wonder, did the bucket fall from her hand, warm water splash across her hot and dusty feet? Did she drop her bowl? Did it break? Did she hasten to gather the precious butter coated now in dust and dirt? Kneeling, scooping, heart beating fast?

Taming the Dragons: Christine Wilbee

Taming the Dragons: Christine Wilbee
by Brenda Wilbee

MY COUSINS WERE ALMOST HOME, pushing their bikes up the last of the hill. It was a winter evening early in the new year of 1974, and a slight drizzle hurried them along: Patty, thirteen, Christine, eleven. Lights from the kitchen window could be seen through the trees. Suddenly, a car driven by a young man blinded by the setting sun came gunning up over the ridge. Patty ran the half block home screaming. Uncle Stan, the town doctor, was paged. Christine had been in an accident.

Taming the Dragons: He Can't Hurt Me Anymore

Taming the Dragons: He Can't Hurt Me Anymore
by Brenda Wilbee
AS A SINGLE MOTHER, I related to Jacob and his feelings of being cheated. In my first three years, child support had changed thirty-eight times. I lived in constant economic upheaval. There are other ways to be cheated, too. We can be cheated out of recognition, time, honor, even love. In the business world we can be cheated when someone takes credit for something we did. Gossip robs us of our reputation. A busy boss may fail to be appreciative. Employees fudge on their time slips. Beyond the workplace there are even more ways to be cheated. Everyone has horror stories of car mechanics, attorneys, and politicians. And yet God did not allow Laban to harm Jacob. . .

Taming the Dragons: Bathsheba

Taming the Dragons: Bathsheba
by Brenda Wilbee
The night was hot when Bathsheba went up to bathe on the top of her home in Jerusalem. She didn’t know King David’s new palace on the eastern ridge afforded a view of her rooftop, nor that he, unable to sleep that night, had gone up to his own roof to get some air. She only knew that a message arrived the next day—the king summoning her to his palace.