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.

Taming the Dragons, Sojourner Truth

Taming the Dragons, Sojourner Truth
by Brenda Wilbee

When ISABEL "SOJOURNER TRUTH" was born a slave in 1797 in Hurley, NY, it was against the law to sell a slave South. Yet when a former master sold her five-year-old son Peter to a Dr. Gedney (who in turn sold him to his brother Solomon), it didn’t stop Solomon Gedney from selling the little boy to his sister’s brother, an Alabama planter. Outraged and grief-stricken, Sojourner Truth confronted Solomon Gedney’s wife. When she got no satisfaction, she appealed to Mrs. Gedney the matron, mother of the man who’d illegally sold her son. 

“Ugh!” said Mrs. Gedney. “A fine fuss to make about a little nigger!

Anne Hutchinson, Colonial America

Anne Hutchinson, Colonial America
by Brenda Wilbee
BEFORE Anne Hutchinson was born, her father Francis Marbury had been thrown into English prisons three times for his Puritan views. His daughter, Anne Marbury Richardson, must have gotten her steel from him. She needed it, for she ran afoul of the Purtians themselves—in the New World. They held little tolerance for anyone else. 

Louisa May Alcott: 10 Fun, Little Known Facts

Louisa May Alcott: 10 Fun, Little Known Facts
by Brenda Wilbee

In February, I visited the Orchard House in Concord, MA, where Louisa May Alcott wrote Little Women in 1868: The same year my great-grandmother Isabella Stewart was born in Denholm, Scotland, clear across the ocean. Such different lives! Granny lived in the heart of the Scottish borderlands—daughter of a poor agricultural laborer on Hall Rule Farm, where barefooted she hoed onions to help support the family. Louisa May Alcott was already an established writer by the time Isabella came along, and although she didn’t hoe onions to support her family’s crippling poverty, her prolific writing made her the primary bread winner.

Skookum Jim Finds the Gold

Skookum Jim Finds the Gold
by Brenda Wilbee
"YOU KNOW A MAN'S CRAZY, GEORGE, if he prefers fishing with the Siwash when there's gold lying about."

Gift From A Stranger

Gift From A Stranger
by Brenda Wilbee
Who is my neighbor? The girl crying outside. 

To Mend a Broken Heart

To Mend a Broken Heart
by Brenda Wilbee
YEARS AGO, when my daughter was married, I discovered a reservoir of sadness over my own failed marriage. God provided friends to help me cope, and I thought it had gone. But when my middle child Phil married two years later, my sadness, I discovered, was still there...

Martyrdom: When The Choice is Ours

Martyrdom: When The Choice is Ours
by Brenda Wilbee
This blog is an excerpt from Taming the Dragons, published by HarperCollins twenty or more years ago, to be released this coming year by Redemption Press. The story is of Mary Dyer, a Quaker hung by the Puritans in 1659 for standing her ground on religious freedom. I included her in the Martyr section of the book because I make the point that to suffer as someone's victim (ex: abusive relationships) is pointless. Only when we choose to martyr ourselves, the decision our own, can suffering redeem. For it's done from a position of power not endurance. Mary, a Christian Quaker, was hung by the prevailing Christians of the day. But that was not the end of it. Because today we enjoy religious freedom, and a statue of Mary Dyer on the Boston Commons not far from where she died reminds us why...

Sweetbriar Update: Seattle Plots "Necessary" Revenge

Sweetbriar Update: Seattle Plots "Necessary" Revenge
by Brenda Wilbee

IN THE MOON OF SWAN MIGRATION, a full decade before the Borens and Dennys took the Indian trail to Oregon, destination unknown, fifty-five-year-old Chief Seattle went to visit his second wife at her village near the Duwamish River mouth. He wanted to take their mid-grown sons hunting; his intention to find an elk for Kick-i-som-lo, his twenty-one-year-old daughter who lived with her two little girls at Old Man House, his primary residence. That he was devoted to his eldest went without saying. Today, in preparation for the hunt with his boys, however, he sat on the floor of the long communal deck of Herring House village, legs swinging off the edge, double-checking his arrowheads. He preferred bow and arrow over the Hudson’s Bay Company’s muzzle-loading rifle. Faster to load and silent.

I Met A Ghost

I Met A Ghost
by Brenda Wilbee
I DON'T BELIEVE IN GHOSTS, but I met Alice the summer of about 2012. I was researching Skagway: It's All About the Gold and getting frustrated by everyone's ghost stories. Finally, on a dare, I stormed up the stairs of the Skagway Inn.

I arrived at the top of the steps full of scorn, stepped into a hallway, and took a quick right, steering for the room at the end, the one I knew had windows overlooking Broadway. I'd always been curious. But when I passed the dress forms standing politely by, hallway decor, the hair on my neck and arms went straight up.

From Temper the Wind: Christine

From Temper the Wind: Christine
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 was thirteen, Christine eleven. Lights from the kitchen window could be seen through the trees. Nearly home.
 
A car driven by a young man blinded by the setting sun came suddenly 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.

Seattle Meets Captain George Vancouver

Seattle Meets Captain George Vancouver
by Brenda Wilbee
LONG BEFORE LOUISA WAS BORN, six-year-old Seattle on the west coast of the continent felt his privilege at even so young an age. Son of Suquamish Chief Schweabe and grandson of a Duwamish chief, slaves did his bidding. . .