Just this past week our garage door up and died. The morning my husband left on a week-long business trip. And as I’m standing in my garage looking at my door that is completely ajar --listening to the garage door repair man talk about door differences, tracks, springs and such -- I’m throwing a little pity party in my head. Because this minor inconvenience is not only going to cost money, it’s putting a wrench in my plans to attend one of my favorite meetings every month or so, a writer’s meeting with a group of ladies I dearly love. A truly minor annoyance.

Photo by Runar Pedersen Holkestad from Flickr.
But then I talk with a friend who has water in their basement. For the third time. In a house that has never flooded before. When I texted her this week to see how it was going, she said, “It’s been a bad week and my attitude sucks. I haven’t checked (the house) because the carpet is already ruined and it just feels a bit overwhelming.” And I agree. It’s a small struggle in the grand scheme of things, she later reminds me, but no less stressful as you walk through it.

And, finally, a dear friend's house started on fire in the attic. It's the worst place for it to begin, as it seemingly smoldered for hours before it was discovered. Her family emerged safe and sound, but they will spend the next several months living in a rental as their house is gutted, cleaned, and fixed. It's a time in life where something comes along that is completely unexpected, changing plans and uprooting a family.

Happy Monday! Thanks for being here for Make A Difference Mondays, a place to get intentional about starting our weeks focused on the positive and put our heads together to dream up ways we can make a difference in this world!

Today, on Make a Difference Monday, we're so thrilled to feature a guest post from Danielle Brower:

Five years ago, my husband Mike and I were well on our way to the beautiful, glamorous “City of American Dreams," where comforts and flashy lights abound. Though thankful, we were unsettled, feeling stirred to make some drastic changes in our pursuits. Neither of us could quite understand how we could have these so-called blessings and not be at peace. Wasn’t there more to life than obtaining and maintaining our comfy corner? 

Standing in the schoolyard, I’d wait. Attending a small Christian school as a child had its perks, one of them being that it ended about the time my Uncle Jim would get off the day shift at the paper mill.

I’d wait outside, hoping he’d show up while my friends were there. I was so proud of my Uncle Jim, whose exuberant personality and booming voice loomed larger than life over my shy, quiet self.

A picture of me and Jimmy.
When his Ford truck would pull in the dusty drive, I’d climb up in the passenger seat beside him. We’d head out on the open road, windows down, wind in my hair. When a song came on that he liked, he’d turn up the radio, slip his hat to the side, and sing loudly with a country twang. And me? I'd be grinning from ear to ear.

We’d make a quick stop in Hill City for a can of pop and candy bar that I didn’t have to share (a HUGE treat for this little girl, who usually had to split treats three ways with her sisters) before making our way to my uncle and aunt's farm.

He had a love for life and for people, especially kids, like few others my little eyes had seen. While most adults would engage us children for awhile and then tire of our childishness, Jimmy was different. He was always glad to see you, seemingly never tired of the silliness of being a kid.

He loved people. And he loved stories.

I have always loved stories.

As a fairly shy and quiet child, I quickly became a good listener. I would be perfectly content to listen to others share about their lives. Fascinated by their experiences -- sometimes common, sometimes not, similar only in that they were all one-of-a-kind. I’ve heard that fingerprints are unique to a person, that no one's are exactly alike; that is true of our stories, as well.

We are different. And we are varied. Together, we color this life beautiful.

As an adult, I found that one of my favorite parts of being a social worker was once again listening to others' stories. It was always part of my job to gather information about each individual's history, and I loved it. I would spend hours in homes, sitting by hospital beds and in nursing homes, assisted living and treatment centers. The settings would change, but the stories did not. I would hear of life and love, good times and bad, heartache and joy.

As people, we experience everything this life can offer. And as an observer, it is incredible to behold.

Tracing letters on the floor with the tips of my scuffed shoes, I sat in a folding chair, my 7-year-old self waiting patiently for my parents to finish their conversations. The evening meeting at Family Camp had ended, and most people had filtered out of the building into the warmth of the humid, mosquito-laden summer night. 

When a woman approached my chair, crying, my attention was caught. Vaguely uncomfortable with her tears, I nonetheless froze when she leaned down and told me that someday I would write for God. 

In that time and at that moment, that meant nothing to me. Sure, I liked to read Little Women and the Little House books -- I was infamous for my bookworm tendencies, my year-round pale skin a testament to my habits. And I liked to write, but I was certainly no prodigy. My less-than-stellar poetry and fiction attempts were, quite frankly, pitiful.