Principal's Message                                                               

In the fifth chapter of his first letter to the Thessalonians, Paul reminds the faithful to “give thanks in all circumstances”.  Of course, the month of November moves us through all manner of ways to think about and give thanks.  Sometimes, we struggle to do so in all circumstances, but Paul was right.  Thanksgiving is a continuous act that we can only do through the eyes of Christ as we are empowered by the Holy Spirit.  Sure it’s easy to be thankful when you find an unexpected $20 bill in a pair of old jeans, but what about when life seems nearly too much to bear—like when a loved one is diagnosed with a terminal illness?  Then what?  Can you be thankful even then?

More than twenty years ago, Melissa and I (and some other friends) sat in a counselor’s office nervously awaiting the results of a genetic test that would let us know whether Melissa had inherited the gene for Huntington’s disease from her mom or whether she would be free from it.  The counselor wasted no time.  She walked into the quiet room, and said, “Melissa, you are positive for the Huntington’s gene.”  It was a shock to all of us.  It was devastating news.  It hurt.  For Melissa, it was a death sentence.  It meant all kinds of decisions to be made about the future.  It meant a painful realization that one day, she’d be faced with the challenges that a neurological disorder like Huntington’s Disease (HD) would present.

We cried.  We prayed.  We made plans.  One of those plans was marriage.  And, nearly 20 years ago, we joined our hearts as we promised faithfulness before God and our family and friends.  We knew that HD would be a part of our future, and we also knew that God was in control.  Of course, He still is!  As we continue on this journey, we know that God will be present, and we give thanks for that!

HD is a disease that affects about 30,000 people in the United States.  It has been described as ALS, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s all rolled into one.  As the disease progresses, symptoms continue to worsen.  Symptoms include: personality changes, mood swings, depression, forgetfulness, impaired judgment, unsteady gait, involuntary movements (chorea), slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, and significant weight loss.  Eventually, weakened by the disease, patients die of pneumonia, heart failure or other complications.

Symptoms can be treated, but currently there is no cure for HD.  This presents some challenges to our family.  A person suffering from HD is still the same person.  It’s frustrating for them to experience changes that seem to mask the person they once were.  It’s heartbreaking for family members to watch as symptoms slowly creep into everyday life and begin to rob a loved one of the things we all take for granted.  Huntington’s Disease is a terminal illness.  So, can the Brandenburgers be thankful for such a thing?

The answer is YES!  We give thanks that there are amazing doctors and researchers working tirelessly to find a cure for HD.  We give thanks that Melissa’s neurologist cares deeply about her and works to ensure that her medications and therapies are working as well as possible.  We give thanks that Melissa is able to share her situation with researchers to help them better understand the disease.  We are thankful that our congregation supports our family with health care that allows us access to treatment.  We give thanks that Melissa has been able to experience over 40 years of symptom free living.  We give thanks that we are able to live out the promises we made on our wedding day as we support one another in sickness and in health.  We are grateful that God has blessed us with a Savior, and one day, Melissa will rejoice in a body that doesn’t suffer the ravages of HD.  We give thanks to God that we raised a family that knows and loves Jesus and strives to share Him with others.  We are grateful to be surrounded by people that can see past the disease and recognize the amazing person that my wife is.  

Don’t get me wrong.  Having HD in your family is a pretty big bummer.  And, if I’m being completely honest, we’d be thankful to not have Huntington’s Disease in our midst, but it’s here.  It’s our reality right now, and we are confident that God will use this time in our lives for His glory.  As you ponder what this means for our family (and for you), you don’t have to feel sorry for us!  In fact, you can be grateful for your own situation (for better or for worse).  You can seek to find ways to see Jesus in the midst of “it” whatever “it” is.  You can pray that the doctors and researchers would remain firm in their resolve to bring an end to Huntington’s Disease and the suffering it causes.  And, you can support causes like this by visiting to learn more or to donate to the Huntington’s Disease Society of America.

We’re still learning how to handle all of this as a family.  We’re learning new things every day and trying to make sense of how God can best use our situation.  Sometimes, we fail miserably.  We struggle.  We complain.  We forget to be thankful in all circumstances.  We are human.  We mess up.  We fess up.  And our Savior forgives us.  We’re reminded to have hope–hope that one day, there will be a cure.  Even more importantly, we’re reminded of the hope that fills us because of what Jesus did on the Cross, so that one day, we can all rejoice in eternity whole and complete as His dearly loved children.  And for this, we are truly thankful.  

Thankful to be in ministry with you,
Corey Brandenburger, Principal


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