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 Brenna Writes
    Just wanted to share a few of my favorite essays! Enjoy!

Anger Management

By: Brenna Verhoeff

        Nobody is perfect, thatís pretty obvious. Everybody has faults.  I think one of the biggest faults we have are our attitudes in how we respond to life. I observe many people and how they react to the circumstances life presents.  I think the most intense observation I ever made was of my stepfather.

          When I first met him, he was the greatest ďdadĒ anybody could ever have. He took me to all kinds of places, bought me nice gifts, and was just all around a nice guy, to me anyway. But as I grew older, I started noticing things, like: he was never around when we needed him and when he was around, he was either eating or sleeping, and his anger was a constant part of  our lives when he was there. This continually got worse as I got older. I remember late nights pacing the floor with my thirteenth month-old brother, Sean, because my mom was on bed rest during the pregnancy with her fourth child and my step-dad was too stubborn to get up with my brother.  He would get angry if Sean cried at night.

         The wake-up call for my mom, the kids and I was when we moved back to Colorado and he just about disappeared from our lives. He would leave for work between 7 and 7:30am, and get home between 11pm to 3am that night. He had weekends and every Wednesday off but he was gone for most of the day on those days. Like I said before, when he was home he was either eating or sleeping.

        The biggest problem we had with him was his constant anger when he was home. When I was younger, I never knew why he was angry all the time, but as I got older, I began to notice things that really ticked him off.  He always seemed to be angry with us.  If there were other people around, he was fairly pleasant, as long as those other people were HIS friends.  If we had friends over, he would sit and stare at them until they left. 

                One night during the week, I asked my mom if I could have friends over for movies and snacks.  Dad was out of town, so mom said it would be okay.  We were all sitting in the living room, watching a movie and eating popcorn and sodas.  He surprised us by coming home, said his truck broke down, and went into the kitchen.  He sat in a chair near the back hall and stared at us.  My friends kept asking if they should leave, but I wanted them to watch the movie.  Finally, the movie was over and they were leaving, all of them apologizing for interrupting his day.  They felt bad, and I felt bad because my friends never wanted to come to my house anymore.

                He hated when he came home after a long day of work, the kids and I were not always in bed asleep. He didnít like it that my mom would make dinner, but didnít keep his dinner warm, even though he often arrived more than four hours after we had eaten dinner. I often heard fights between my mom and him about the fact that he felt he went out and worked all day while my mom sat at home and did nothing all day long.  The truth behind that is that my mom operated a minimum of three businesses each day while home schooling four kids. Home schooling us had to be tough. While I admit to being the more active of us four kids (IĎm the oldest), the other three were always involved in something, whether it was something with our church, another home school group, or just working on a school assignments and outings. This meant that my mom was relentlessly doing something with somebody.  When I became a teenager and really started becoming active in youth group, the explorer cadet program, school, and other activities, I noticed that my step-dad got extremely angry if he didnít know exactly what was going on with our family.

                At one point, he and my mom went to a marriage counselor to see what they could do to help control this anger and hopefully save the marriage. The counselor suggested we could put a calendar up somewhere in the house so that my step-dad could look at it and see what was going on in the rest of our lives. We did do that but the calendar failed because my step dad would never stop to look at the calendar, then he would get mad because we stopped putting our activities on the calendar. My mom pointed out to him that we had stopped using the calendar because he would never stop and look at it, and he remained angry though the information was in plain view. This made him even angrier, he didnĎt want to admit any part of the responsibility could be his. Things like this just kept happening in our home until May 2, 2001 when he finally went beyond anger.  He couldnít control us anymore. He packed his bags and left.

                Even his absence was an attempt to control us.  When he left, he took only the things he would use day to day, he left other things all over the house.  Several months later, when mom had not contacted him, he contacted a counselor and wanted mom to work things out.  She came home and talked to us, because it included us too. We had been so happy since he left, none of the angry outbursts and temper tantrums from before.  We were becoming a happy family. 

                During that time after he left, we took several family trips, some of them to visit other family members.  It was fun to travel.  We laughed and sang in the car.  We listened to the radio and played Ďcar gamesí.  Several times during the trip, we saw interesting places that we had read about and took Ďdetoursí that enabled us to actually see things we had learned about in school.  I could remember early trips right after mom married him, when it was just my mom, my sister and I.  The trips we took after he left were very similar to those.  Education again became just part of an otherwise fun day.  Even though mom was often working on those trips, her meetings were short and we could participate in some of them.  She worked, we learned, and we all had a fun time. 

                Trips with my step-dad were never like that.  He wanted to get to the destination, so there was no stopping along the way for side tours, and there was never a time when we were allowed to sing along with the radio or play Ďcar gamesí with dad along.  He claimed we distracted him as he drove.  So, he would sit and talk to mom, and he would yell at us to be quiet.  We learned to read a lot and mom always took Ďquietí games when he was along.

                This is when I came to my conclusion that if you let anger take over your life, soon anger will fill up your life and destroy it. Iíve seen my step dad very few times in the past year and a half but when I have seen him, he still looks as angry and depressed as before.   Iím realizing that his anger didnít really have anything to do with us.  He was just angry. 

                In Sunday School and church, Iíve learned that anger is generally a result of built up resentment and unforgiveness.   Itís what happens when people hold in bitter feelings for a long time, and the kind of anger that my step-dad has is usually built up from childhood, and often never goes away.  Itís a bitterness that zaps the strength and love from a person and fills them with hatred and anger. 

                I believe it is even the king of anger that fuels hatred like terrorists have for people they set out to kill and destroy.  I believe it results from resentment that is hidden deep inside, beaten down and held onto.  Itís like when someone accidentally does something to a person, and maybe doesnít even know it, but the person holds onto the grudge and keeps letting it build up until they have to destroy that which they have built hate around.

                In my step-dadís case, I believe he was probably an unwanted child.  From birth, he tried to please his parents, but they never really let him know that they loved him, so he resented all the time we spent trying to Ďearn their loveí.  Instead of realizing at some point that it didnít matter, he was still a good person, and accepting himself as valuable, he just kept always trying to gain their approval.  In failure he found comfort in his anger.  His resentment became justified - in his mind. 

                I never knew his parents.  Even though they live within an hourís drive from us, they didnít come see us, and wanted nothing to do with us, so we never went to visit them.  He said they didnít want us around them.  I believe it is so sad that they didnít want us.  My sister and brothers and I have been Ďadoptedí by lots of Ďgrandparentsí, and momís parents think we are wonderful. My step-dad and his parents are missing out on a real blessing by rejecting us.  I could end up like him, angry because of being rejected.  But, I believe that it is a personal choice.  That I can decide to accept that they donít know me, and Iím a valuable person, whether they believe that or not.  I donít have to accept their rejection in my life.  I can be better and love them because itís a right thing to do.  Though I canít foresee ever having an opportunity to know them, or to show them that I love them, no matter what, I know that I do.  And thatís what will make my life different.

                I think that if a person begins to relate to all events in life with anger, that person needs to look inside themselves and figure out what is causing the anger.  Maybe with the help of a counselor, or other professional who can help them to deal with their lives in a more productive way, they can find the source of their anger and accept it as something that happens in life, and let it go, so they can become productive, happy adults.  Anger can kind of seep into a personís life on many levels, but I believe this is how it becomes bigger than life.

1.        A life event happens, (such as your brother kicks you under the table), and you are sad because it hurt, but instead of telling someone, you kick him back.  Your mother yells at you because she saw you kick him - so the resentment has begun to build.

2.        A while later, itís your birthday, and your brother gets to do something you wanted to do.  It isnít fair that you donít get to do it, but nobody notices, and you feel resentment build more.  So, next time you are out of sight of your parents, you hit him.  You claim it was playful, but it was out of your own anger.

3.        As a teenager, you feel left out of the Ďgroupí. It isnít something that you did, but just the way you feel.  Maybe nobody intended not to invite you, they assumed you would just join in.  You feel rejected.  Again your anger turns inside, you donít deal with it, you donít confront it within, you let it escape by letting the air out of the popular guyís tires.

4.        As a young adult, the job you wanted goes to someone else.  Maybe they did have better credentials but, you think you deserved it more.  Life is happening, and you feel left out of the loop.  Anger builds, you havenít dealt with any of it, it is all there festering below the surface.

5.        The girl of your dreams marries Mr. Wonttreatherasniceasyou, and you feel the resentment burn.  You meet a wonderful girl, who fills your hopes and meets your needs, but Ö she isnít that perfect dream girl from high school or college, and you feel like you had to settle for second best.  Anger becomes part of your daily life.  It is who you are, and you let everyone know that your life could have been better if your brother hadnít kicked you under the table, but that is never the words you use.  Someone else is always to blame.

6.        A baby is born.  You wanted children.  But, this one isnít perfect, it cries and has dirty pants you have to change.  And itís more expensive to parent a child than you thought it would be.  So you become angrier, and angrier, until you are spouting obscenities every night before dinner.  Your wife is hurting, and your child is hurting, but you donít care.  You are hurting inside and nobody fixed your hurt.

7.        Your wife doesnít revolve around your schedule anymore, she has interests that occasionally come before you. The child you said you wanted doesnít pay attention to you anymore either, and you feel alone, left out, and resentful again.  Somebody else got your perfect job, and you are stuck in this dead end place of being that you hate.  Life isnít what you pictured, and you feel the resentment build.  Instead of doing something constructive about it, you keep yelling and pushing people away from you, and eventually they do leave.  You resent them, you are angrier than before, and there is more hate building inside.

8.        Anger is now a way of life for you.  It is your sustenance and your daily Ďfixí for every ailment.  No matter how you feel - you react in anger.

9.        Anger becomes active and you begin to ACT out of anger - rather than reacting.  It is a consuming force that rules you, and no other force can contain it.  Anger is one letter away from D-anger - and you are there.  You are a dangerous person - because your anger is out of control.

                There is a point at which anger becomes bigger than the person wearing the anger, and it becomes the controller of that person.   I believe that is somewhere between steps  Four and Seven.  I do not believe there is a point where the person cannot turn it around, but there is a point where it becomes unlikely to happen.

Courage Under Fire

By: Brenna Verhoeff

      September 12th 2001. Not as meaningful as September 11th but it still holds a lot of history. It was on this day that President Bush had to make a very difficult decision for himself, his family, and his country. He declared war on all terrorism but more particularly the Al-Queida. Since then it has been called America's War On Terrorism. Everywhere Americans look there is something about the war, "Another soldier was killed for America" "A new message from Osama Bin Laden" "Anthrax letters litter mailboxes". This war has affected every person in America, including President Bush. But have you ever wondered what has really been going through President Bush's head as this war unveils around us? Well, I don't believe anybody but President Bush knows whatís going on in his head. But I think its possibly that under the dark blue suits and the Texan accent, there is a man that is just as concerned for America as everyone else. How do I know this? Just look at his actions and they alone will prove them.

        The difference between President Bush and the regular "Joe Shmo" on the streets of America, is that President Bush knows what it will take to defeat the Taliban, and he is executing that plan. He is striking out against them and letting them know that America will not tolerate this kind of abuse any longer. Even at the cost of American lives, President Bush is pushing America forward and defending this country in a way that will make students in the future stand up and say, "President Bush was an amazing man and a great leader." Moreover, I believe students will want to stand up against terrorism in much of the same way that President Bush is doing now. President Bush is not only a role model for this generation but also a role model for the coming generations. But does this matter to President Bush? To some extent yes, but I think he has a greater and stronger feeling of responsibility for what is going on now in that, what it will be like in the future. Why? Well, for the obvious reason, if he looked at this war as what its going to be like in the history books, we might have lost a lot more soldiers than we have so far, and also I think America would be a lot more vulnerable now than we actually are. I look back at the year 2000 election, and I thank God every day that President Bush got elected instead of Gore. To think of what kind of shape we could be in now had Gore been elected into office, I wonder if we would even been able to call ourselves Americans.

The Rumor Mill

By Brenna Verhoeff

     Every human being dreams of having a rumor started about THEM. Yes, I did say rumor, you know those nasty, deceptive, over-exaggerated lies. But why would any person want to be talked about behind their own backs? Scientists have studied this throughout history and they have finally come to a conclusion. Humans LOVE attention! No matter what kind of attention they get, they love attention! After all, any publicity is good publicity, so says HollywoodÖ

              So right now, youíre thinking Ď Man, Iím a pretty mellow person you know, I make good grades, Iím involved in a dozen extracurricular activities, I obey my parents, Iím the ultimate teachers pet, I give to the poor and hungry and I help any person I can in any way possible, Iím just a great person everywhere I go! So how can I become the center of all this attention?í Well, itís actually not as difficult as it seems. First, you need to start hanging out with a fairly Ďout of control, Iím my own bossí type of group that has no regard whatsoever to superior beings, especially parents and teachers. But is this the only group that will help you achieve your goal of ultimate attention? Of course not! This brings me to my second option of how to gain attention.

               The popular group. Perfect in every aspect of life. Perfect clothes, perfect hair, perfect body, and above all else, all the attention a person could ever want!! But unlike the Ďbad boysí group where you smoke a joint and your in, the popular group is just slightly more difficult to join. You have to change your whole image, which might cost just a  tiny portion of your college fund. But just remember, at the end of the tunnel, where the bright light shines, you will receiveÖ ULTIMATE ATTENTION!!!!

             So, after youíve joined one of these groups, let me assure you, you are on the right track. You are in the tunnel, you can see the distant light waiting for you, but you still need to do a few more things to achieve  ultimate attention.

              First, go to a couple parties, get plastered maybe do a belly dance or two on the dining room table, stumble into a bedroom with the class hunk, or the blondest cheerleader you can find, depending on your preferenceÖ or, to really get the river of rumors flowing, you could stumble into a bedroom with the hostessí or hostís drunk mother or father, again depending on your preference. From there, itís all downhill and before you know it, youíve reached it. The end of the tunnel, the bright life, ULTIMATE ATTENTION!!

            So, now that Iíve shown you how to gain all the attention you could ever want, go out there and get all the attention you can possible get! Heck, I know I want all the attention I can get, good or bad!!!

       (By the way, the light at the end of the tunnel is a train cominí atcha ya!!!)

More Brenna --- From Missions Trip to West Virginia

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