on being a difference maker…

I began blogging eight years ago, this very month.  My original purpose was to practice writing.  My ultimate goal was a book about the years we lived in Alaska.

I also wanted to be an encouraging presence… to share my love for God, family, country and maybe even generate a laugh now and then.  Pretty light stuff.

A few months after my “launch” into the writing life (I’m making myself laugh now), I left my paying job and took on full-time care of an aging parent suffering from dementia.  Three years after that I took on two more aging parents, one with dementia and one with physical disabilities.  My 92-year-old mom still lives with us today.

That one choice in 2011, turned my world upside down in ways I’d never imagined… difficult, good, lonely, perplexing ways.

So much for writing the light stuff.

And I didn’t want to write about the hard stuff.

So, after a lot of inconsistent writing…  I stopped writing any stuff.

Earlier this week I was notified the renewal for my domain name was due and I considered closing the blog.  No sense paying for something I don’t use.  Then I turned on the evening news.

It was a shock to hear the governor of California had overridden the will of the people and placed a moratorium on the state’s death penalty.

“She’ll get no justice at all”,  was all I could mumble to myself.

My cousin was murdered in 1990.  She was one of six women killed by one man over a period of several months.  He was caught, convicted beyond doubt and sentenced to death in 1993.  And all these years later he still sits in prison… eating, sleeping, doing whatever they do there, being supported by the very tax dollars of the people he harmed.  And now, apparently, not fearing for his life.

My cousin lays in a grave.

You may be thinking this post is about the death penalty.  Only a little.  While I believe it’s a just punishment in cases I’m familiar with, the topic is complicated and worthy of discussion.

What really drives me here today, is the alarm it raises that one arrogant man can dismiss the voters he was elected to SERVE.  He has a built in platform that gives him a great voice.  Politicians and wealthy celebrities should not have a corner on being heard.

In the day to day of everyday life, the average American doesn’t have much chance of being heard.  Simply casting a vote doesn’t do much anymore.  And some of us don’t even do that.

Our culture has shifted greatly the last few years.  We talk about it at family gatherings.  I talk about it with friends and at Bible study.  But that’s where it typically ends.

        It’s the law of the land.

        It’s the cultural norm.

        What can I do about it anyway?

I have heard and said those very words.  Plus, if I speak up or align myself with a group trying to make a difference, there’s that fear of offending someone I love… yep, that’s my go-to excuse which typically sends me running for a handful of cookies instead of sitting at the computer to write.

Obviously, my aunt was devastated by her daughter’s murder.  I can’t imagine the depth of that pain.  But in spite of that pain, and the multiple sclerosis that controlled her body, she made trip after trip to southern California for meetings, for the trial, for the sentencing.  She listened to horrific testimony.  She saw the gruesome pictures.  She fought for justice.  She didn’t give up.

She struggled to overcome that blow for the rest of her life.  One day at a time, she made the choice to live and love her family, friends, and community well.  She found meaningful volunteer work at the local hospital.  And she continued to speak out.

From the need for a new stop light to a hot button political debate, you could count on her prolific letter writing skills.

“Who are you writing to now”?,  I would tease … and she would pull out a photocopy of her latest offering.  There were letters to the governor, the newspaper editor, her state representative, the local councilman, the mayor.  Often there were answers.  And sometimes even phone calls exchanged.  You can bet they knew her name.

Did any of that make a difference?  I can’t know for sure.  But I know it made a difference to her.  And it made a difference to the ones watching her life.

So here’s what I know about speaking out and attempting to make a difference:

It’s not convenient.  Because the next step is follow through, or else there is no point.

It’s risky.  Especially if your values are conservative because you can count on those flaming arrows of criticism.

It’s dangerous NOT to speak.  Because change will come and you won’t have had a say.

My initial “hearts and flowers and all things lovely” goal for this writing space was not practical.  I don’t know about you, but my life doesn’t fit in a nice, neat package.  Societal issues press in.  Family life is messy.  My faith walk has been filled with difficult spaces and hard questions.  And God has been good enough and gracious enough to love me through it all.  I now know it’s okay to write about those hard things here.  I plan to speak (and hopefully act) for what is on my heart.  I hope you will too.  Even if we don’t agree.

I love the parable Jesus told of the Persistent Widow in Luke 18:1 thru 8 – – her constant pleas to the judge for justice eventually wore him down.  I want to be like her!  Well, minus the widow part.

Good and bad, dark and light – it’s all part of everyday.  This space can tolerate a few words on the “dark side” now and then.

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12 thoughts on “on being a difference maker…

  1. Oh my Brooke. I could have written the first part of this as I toss and turn the idea of my blog in my mind – payment due is coming. Grieving caught me by surprise the other year and stole my words. Yours are perhaps the words I needed today to make a good decision. To really think about my purpose in writing. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

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  2. Natalie

    I hope this means you’ve renewed your domain name and will continue writing.
    I’m sorry about your cousin and certainly can relate to frustration and disappointment.
    Flowers or not, I’ll look forward to your next post.

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  3. I began my blog in June of 2008 with the idea that ‘becoming visible’ was a necessary part of my writing ambitions. My posts have become less frequent, but I enjoy these ‘writing exercises’ even when the topics are trivial and I sometimes question their value to others. Every so often, however, someone contacts me to say a post has been helpful and I am reminded that we never know whose lives we may touch when we reach out into cyberspace. I’m glad to have found you here and I’m glad you’ve decided to keep blogging. 🙂

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    1. Thanks for your encouraging words, Carol. Actually, your blog was one of the first I followed and I think it was 2011. You wrote a blog about your recipe books and I loved it! You’re right – – we never know what a difference our words may make.

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    1. I am glad to hear from you, Maureen! It had been so long since I’d written a post and then was having “poster’s remorse”. 🙂 Appreciate your encouragement. So many things happening so fast in this world. I want to give hope, yet I keep feeling the need to say, “hey, wait a minute! we need to stop and think about what’s happening here” – – well, we shall see what happens.

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