Suzette BrawnerGeneral

Recently I was flying to an event on a Friday afternoon. Because there were numerous cancellations and weather delays frustration was running high. Like cows headed to the barn, Friday afternoon business travelers were ready to get home. Being detained only heightened the tension. I made my way through security and found a seat at the gate.

Since the small plane looked like it would only be about half full, I was shocked when boarding was announced to watch everyone rush the gate as if there was a seat shortage. Maybe they knew something I didn’t, so I quickly got in line.

The man in front of me commented to the man in front of him that it really wasn’t necessary to push. Obviously the man who had done the pushing was angry to begin with and now he was really hot. He wheeled his carry on bag around and got right up in the face of man in front of me. “You shut up!” he said, in a loud voice. Then told him where he could go. The man in front of me took a step back and so did I thinking a full on fist fight was about to break out and I might take the first punch! As I was trying to get out of the way I bumped in to a very tall, bowed up National Guard guy in uniform who very politely said, “Gentlemen, let’s all calm down, turn around and get on the plane.” And they did.

The TSA agents should be on the lookout for angry Friday afternoon flyers as well as terrorists.

When I sat down on the plane all I could do was laugh. People look at you strangely when you are sitting alone laughing. Truly I haven’t been in a situation like that since 7th grade. I sure hope the pushing man realized how ridiculous he looked.

Why can’t we all just get along? I guess some people never emotionally graduate from Jr. High and the need to push. Maybe we should learn how to be nice from watching schools of fish: Stick together. Swim in the same direction. Avoid collisions when at all possible.

Suzette BrawnerGeneral

I’ll have to be honest. I’m in an adrenaline let down today. This must be how the football players feel after the Super Bowl. Well, … kind of. January 7th does me this way every year. Our family parties from Thanksgiving until yesterday. Right after all the turkey is my daughter, Jill’s birthday. My oldest son Jason’s birthday is three days before Christmas. Next we have Christmas for one full week with all the parties and dinners straight in to New Year’s celebrations. The final hurrah was my middle son Travis’ birthday yesterday. Next year we’ll celebrate two new babies’ birthdays who were born November 12th and December 14th. It’s like a 6 week festival of sorts!

Last night when we were singing Happy Birthday and having cake one more time, I knew it was coming. Again, it’s January 7th. Today I think I’ll take a deep breath and regroup. Am I tired, absolutely. Am I blessed, beyond imagination. When I consider how many lonely people spend this time of year in a well of sadness, I teeter on feeling guilty if I even consider complaining about my adrenaline crash. A cup of coffee and a hug usually make things better anyway. Today when you’re out in the world remember this; so many people you come across need a kind word of encouragement. How many can you make smile?

Suzette BrawnerGeneral

I was in the grocery store checkout line considering if all the ingredients for dinner were in the cart. As the checker ran the mozzarella cheese across the scanner I noticed it rang up a dollar ninety-five more than the sale price on the display.

“That cheese is actually on sale for $2.00,” I told the girl ringing up my groceries.

“Oh?” She responded as she pulled out the weekly flyer. “Well, you are right,” she agreed as she motioned to the manager. “Ron, this cheese is on sale and it came up at the regular price.”

“I’ll be right back,” he said heading toward the dairy case in the far corner of the store.

Feeling inconsiderate for slowing down the late afternoon flow of the check out line, I turned to the woman behind me and apologized for the computer error. She smiled politely probably wondering how she always ends up behind someone who wants a price check or debates with the clerk over coupons. Ron returned explaining that I had picked up the 16-ounce package, not the 12-ounce package that was on sale. As he handed me the cheese, I turned to the woman behind me again. This time I was not expecting to receive such a pleasant smile since it was my human error instead of the computer.

“I am so sorry. I know how irritating it is to be in line behind shoppers like me.”

Since frustration with other people’s mistakes is not easily hidden at five o’clock in the afternoon, her response surprised me. She grinned and said, “I refuse to let four ounces of cheese ruin my otherwise wonderful day.”

That should be inscribed in stone somewhere!! Even though I have never seen her again, the grocery store lady has reminded me for years to count inconveniences as nothing but four ounces of cheese.

Suzette BrawnerGeneral

I’m not a big fan of change. I like a routine and a plan because it feels like there’s security in working the plan. Change others don’t miss a step with can set me off balance for days. I’ve gotten a little more flexible over the years, but still resist what I consider unnecessary change.

I had to get a new computer because mine was an antique in computer years and had begun slowly slipping away. Most people would be thrilled, but I had to get to the point of total exasperation before I conceded to a trip to Best Buy. After an hour of what I’m sure the twenty-something geek guy thought was basic instruction, I left the store with a blank stare and sweating palms. It will take me until this one is dying to understand how everything works.

Whether we like it or not the only thing really consistent in life is change itself. Change is good mostly because it kindly forces us to step out of our “safe” zones so we learn and grow. Who wants to become stagnant and boring anyway?

So, I’m fearlessly taking the challenge of learning a new computer. I’ve also been given a bonus lesson as this adventure clearly reminds me to never flippantly say, “Oh, it’s so easy,” to someone who is facing something new.

Suzette BrawnerGeneral

All of us have a friend who has the ability to cut through all the stuff, without pretense, and say what really needs to be said. And without pouting and whining we not only hear what is being said, but we really listen. Deb does that for me.

The other day I caught myself mentally complaining about being worn down. “Why does everything have to be so challenging? If just one thing could be simple…” These two thoughts wouldn’t leave me alone. So, I called my friend who refuses to come to my pity parties.

I thought I might get an “Aww” or “You poor thing” out of her this time, but nope. After patiently listening to my soap opera she said something that made so much sense.

“I don’t mean to sound strange or Zen-like, but have you ever watched running water in a stream?” she asked me. “When it comes up against a rock what does it do?”

“It goes around it,” I answered. “It takes a different path.”

“If water does that, why can’t you?” she said. “Don’t keep pushing on your obstacles, find a way to go around them.”

I thought about water for the rest of the day. The human body is 55-75% water depending of the size of the person. So I should be able to act like water. Water may look smart, but God gave us the ability to reason and re-route. Our pastor once said, “Doing the same thing over and over expecting different results is called insanity.” No wonder the frustration! Recalculating instead of pushing just might work.

Shut The Gate

Suzette BrawnerGeneral

I heard a pastor tell the story of his father constantly reminding him when he was a kid to close the gate behind him as he left the barnyard. “If you leave the gate open, the animals will follow you around”, his father would say.

He asked the crowd, “Isn’t that what we should do with our past; shut the gate so it won’t follow us around?”

I think that’s brilliant! Granted, the roads we’ve traveled make us who we are. But, why don’t we just leave the hurtful junk in the barnyard, shut the gate, and move on? If we really need to, we can peek back over the fence to remind ourselves how we don’t want to do things. Then we can walk away and escape without all the “animals” following us begging to be fed and taken care of. Besides what we don’t feed won’t grow.

Change, even with the way we think, is not easy even though the end result is good. We get comfortable with where we are and what we are doing regardless of how destructive it might be. Moving forward and moving on simply begins with a decision to take the first step in the right direction.

It’s a new year. Why not take that first step?

“…Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead…”
-Philippians 3:13

January 2

Suzette Brawnerchristmas decorations, organized

Every year, while digging through boxes of lights and ornaments the weekend after Thanksgiving, I promise myself I’ll put the Christmas decorations away labeled and in order after the 1st. I never keep that promise. I’m in such a hurry to get the house cleaned up; I randomly pack things wherever they fit in the storage tubs. My plans are well intended in November, but are always renegotiated in January.

I have friends who color code everything with one of those little guns that spits out labels. I used to be envious of their efficiency. But I’ve decided decorating is probably a little robotic and boring for the overly organized. They miss out on the joy of rediscovering a 1980’s ornament that’s been hidden in the bottom of a box for 5 years. Or they don’t get the opportunity to uncover a handmade ornament with a child’s grinning, toothless second grade picture on it. Yesterday, when I was packing things away, I realized those little surprises are what I look forward to when I pull down the boxes after Black Friday.

The lights are rolled up and the ornaments are in the tubs and things are back to normal, whatever that is. This year in November I’m not going to complain that I got in a hurry in January. I think I’ll relax as I untangle things and just simply enjoy the decorating process.

Welcome 2010

Suzette Brawner2010, January 1, new

The first day of a new year is enchanting. It’s full of hope and endless possibilities. New and unspoiled … like looking out on fresh snow before people and dogs have tramped through it and messed it up. Then life happens. The hot water heater meets a sudden and untimely death. An irritating head cold sneaks through layers of hand sanitizer. A friend disappoints. A job is lost. A loved one dies. The pure, serene snow scene begins to look more like a broken snow globe. But that’s real life. The challenge is to enjoy it regardless.

I’m blogging through the year. Let’s encourage one another to step on top of the debris we encounter every day, learn from it, and have fun in spite of it. I don’t want to hear myself saying, “It was a bad day”. How sad! Clearly some days are much more challenging than others, but “a bad day”, I don’t think so. We have the day. It’s a gift. Say thanks, be grateful and push on. Happy New Year! It’s going to be a surprising.

If your relationship is showing signs of strain it could be time to call in…

Suzette BrawnerGeneral

Two relationship doctors who aim to solve love spats will be on the Island for a seminar this weekend.
Suzette Brawner and Dr. Gary Smalley will be speaking at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess tomorrow
evening and Saturday morning during the Heart to Heart Couples Mentoring Ministries DNA of
Relationships Conference.
Dr. Smalley is known as America’s relationship doctor and is the author and co-author of more than 40
books. His latest title is ‘The DNA of Relationships’.
Mrs. Brawner is the co-author of ‘Taming the Family Zoo’ as well as being an event speaker across the
United States and a frequent radio guest.
Mrs. Brawner met her husband of 34 years on a blind date and is a mother of three and a grandmother.
She uses humour, encouragement, wisdom, and experience to connect in a heart-to-heart way with
people and she has been known to quickly move an audience from serious, thought provoking moments
to uncontrollable laughter.
Mrs. Brawner was born and raised in Little Rock, Arkansas, and received a Bachelor’s degree in
education from the University of Arkansas.
She was a teacher for more than 20 years and was the director at Kanakuk Kamps, in Branson, Missouri.
She has worked with Gary Smalley at Smalley Relationship Center for many years and is the recipient of
the Angel Award and the Silver Medallion. Speaking publicly has been a dream of hers since she was a
member of the high school debate team.
“But my passion was for my family,” she said, “And when our last child left home I dove into what I was
waiting to do. My husband, Jim and I have a book, ‘Taming The Family Zoo’.
“My daughter Jill and I are finishing a manuscript this summer for a book that will hopefully come out in
the fall.
“I speak for church, community, and corporate events all over the US and now I have the opportunity to
come to Bermuda.” Mrs. Brawner said watching families fall apart makes her sad.
“It seems to be happening more rapidly than ever now,” she said.
“There are so many things to pull us away from our family. We need to get back to the basics and return
the focus on what matters most. Those attending the conference will learn some of these concepts.”
When asked whether lack of finances played a large part in the breakdown of marriages, she said: “I do
agree that the lack of financial resources can cause a lot of stress in a marriage, but that is, in my
opinion, not the defining factor for a marriage falling apart.
“Granted having all the money that you think you might need would be handy, but if the marriage is not
strong it does not matter how much money you have. Just as money cannot buy happiness, it cannot buy
a satisfying and strong marriage.”
During the conference Mrs. Brawner will be teaching elements of maximising harmony and minimising
“A few of the things I will be touching on are traps we fall into and how to avoid them, how to decrease
arguments by at least half in all of your relationships; how to get rid of the most destructive behaviour we
all can fall victim to; and how to instantly have more fun.”
In the last 35 years Dr. Smalley has spoken to more than two million people in live conferences and he
has appeared on US national televisions programmes such as ‘Oprah Winfrey’, ‘Larry King Live’, ‘NBC
Today Show’ as well as numerous national radio programmes such as ‘Focus on the Family’.
He is president and founder of the Smalley Relationship Center providing conferences across America as
well as books, videos and small group curriculum. He and his wife, Norma, have been married for 40
years, live in Branson, Missouri and have three children, and eight grandchildren.

an article from
Article published Jun 23, 2005