Brooke in Three Words: Servant, Dreamer, Storyteller
2 Corinthians 4:7 reads, “We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.”
I cannot remold the “jar of clay” that is my body and although I accept the concessions that must be made for its disparities, it does not cage me. I choose to live abundantly, beyond my physical challenges.
Being born with a developmental (muscular) disability known as Cerebral Palsy in 1983, I’ve navigated through the majority of my life in a power wheelchair. Therefore, my independent mobility is limited and my speech isn’t always easily intelligible, but my God-given “power” manifests through my vivid imagination and passion for captivating stories.
Everyday has battles that must be fought and irritating bodily pains to contend with, but the Light in my heart – that is, the peaceful strength, courage and determined endurance I draw from my faith in Christ Jesus always persuades me to press on. I consciously welcomed His presence in my life at age seven. Back then most of my prayers centered around my whispered dreams of becoming a dancer. We both knew how physically difficult that would be. Yet, He patiently began teaching me to find a dancing rhythm in the way I lived each day. My mind was always full of glorious adventures in enchanted lands where I would travel with some of Heaven’s angels as my guides. In fourth grade, the Lord blessed me with a wonderful teacher, Mrs. Jones, who helped me discover what I could do with paper and pen or better yet, a computer – make my stories come to life!
The valley has been my home for over twenty years. Its persistent sunlight has enabled me to blossom into a desert rose with the written word acting as my gently sweet aroma. I’ve written my way through times of great joy, such as my high school years at Scottsdale Christian Academy: where I had loving friends, was a cheerleader on a team that took second in our state competition and I was also in the homecoming court for Basketball season my senior year. But, I’ve written through many times of trial as well, like having eight quite invasive surgeries or being horribly ridiculed and harassed in middle school.
The Lord carried me through college, a time of extreme loneliness, by opening the doors of opportunity. I majored in Journalism with an emphasis in Media Analysis and Criticism at Arizona State University. This presented me with the chance to write for one of the campus newspapers and do an arts and entertainment internship at The East Valley Tribune.
However, my most cherished college accomplishments happened during my final semester. I completed the initial draft of The Little Butterfly girl in an independent study under the watchful eyes of my mentor and friend, Dr. Mary-Lou Galician. Without her “gentle push,” it may have never been finished. During this time, Dr. Galician saw fit to nominate me for the Walter Cronkite Outstanding Undergraduate Award. Not only did I receive the award, but I was also chosen as graduation speaker! I gave the entire speech with my augmentative communication device on December 15, 2006 when I graduated Magna Cum Laude and was the first student speaker ever to receive a standing ovation.
However, I’ve never felt like I belong in a newsroom or on the “front lines” of the latest world news events, unlike the majority of journalism school graduates. To begin with, trying to meet the constant and unyielding demands of the “news clock” with my fine motor limitations causes me so much stress and anxiety that it only exacerbates my muscular spasticity, which in turn makes it even harder to complete assignments quickly. But more than that, I’d much rather share only the stories that touch the human spirit, instead of reporting politics, terror and catastrophic tragedy.
And so, I’ve had to find other professional creative outlets for my degree. I apparently have knack for community newsletters, which really shouldn’t be a surprise. Those types of newsletters are built on the stories of people with shared experiences. I’ve also found an unexpected niche on stage with the Improbable Theatre Company. The players are a wonderful mix of people with and without disabilities and all of our original works are created from real life situations. I’m never completely comfortable in the spotlight, but I’ve learned I can’t hide behind the curtain when I’m called to encourage and inspire others.
The Lord commands us to use our gifts and talents for the good of His Kingdom in 1 Peter 4:10. So, just as I live to serve Him, I write and tell all kinds of stories so other people may also find hope in His presence.