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The challenge of living with courage in hard times without giving in to fear and anxiety is the subject explored by the speaker at the next JOY Breakfast on Oct. 24 at the Ramkota Inn in Bismarck.

Brenda Whitman of Bismarck will talk about strategies to help one live a courageous life and how to reshape life in times where fear is prevalent - about parenting, economics, health and a host of other things.

In "Fearless! Living Life Courageously," from her own experience with a neurological condition that caused periods of functional blindness, Whitman will share her experience of fighting fear with faith.

This is the seventh JOY Breakfast since 2006, when Fran Dwelle and a group of local women decided to re-create the JOY events that Dwelle had organized while living in Vienna, Austria, where the gatherings aimed to create bonds of faith among women of different nationalities.

The Joy International group does a breakfast every fall and spring and also puts together weekly "Java Joy" gatherings, the first Thursday of each month at Boneshakers in Bismarck at 6:30 p.m., Dwelle said.

Participants may choose whether or not they would like to attend based on the topic that will be discussed. This can be found ahead of time on the Web site at An e-mail with the information also is sent out to members of the group. No reservations are needed to attend the coffee house meetings, which usually last an hour to 90 minutes.

After the breakfast, participants will be able to sign up for small group sessions to discuss issues that relate to women. This event usually has around 600 women attending.

The attendance has doubled through the years here in Bismarck, Dwelle said. More women are inviting others to attend - the gatherings are filling a spiritual need. This also is an opportunity for a morning out for personal refreshment, she said.

"We want every woman to come and in some way take steps towards God," she said.

Dwelle said her vision for JOY was to see other communities adopt the model for women around the state. Dwelle has spoken to women's groups about JOY, and groups from Fargo and Minot have expressed interest in starting JOY events in their communities. The Bismarck organizers are now preparing a manual for JOY gatherings that will help others start their own.

At the Oct. 24 event, Whitman, who teaches at Medcenter One College of Nursing and is a winner of the Crystal Apple teaching award, said that her world was turned upside down when her neurological condition threatened her ability to do her job and daily activities.

What she learned through her ordeal, she said, was there is help though God and that God is faithful and will provide the strength that is needed.

Speaking to others about her experience "teaches me as well as others," she said. "As I teach it, it teaches me."

God, she said, restored her health and gave her much more than that, as well.

"Her talk will be about hope," Dwelle said.

The breakfast is from 9 to 11:30 a.m. Oct. 24. Tickets are $12 at the Rainbow Shop, 554 S. Seventh St., or $13 online at Ticket sales close Thursday.

(Macy Egeland is a senior at Century High School. She can be reached at Reach reporter Karen Herzog at 250-8267 or

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