Saturday, March 22, 2014

Holiday Hardship 101- A Belated Holiday Piece

We are in the midst of an awesome holiday season where there is a constant go go go mentality and a business in the air. Now Christmas festivities have faded slightly and all eyes are on New Years now, but as I'm in NC I can't help but be drawn to conversations had in Detroit and small realizations had about this season...

It was a couple weeks ago when talking to a good friend (we can call him Ronald) about the excitement of the coming holiday that I realized most of the excitement was being expressed by me. I asked Ronald about this, and if he was excited for the holiday. Now Ronald an I have known each other for a year and half now and I have heard muh of his story, but it was in this moment of vulnerability that I found that Ronald had a very powerful reason for this feeling of discomfort and even frustration.

Ronald explained to me that in December symbolizes for him a month of dismal anniversaries. It was in Decmeber that his mother passed, his sister was died and most poignant for him of all, Ronald's son was killed.

Now I recognize that we all have different experiences, whether it's with family, friends or growing up we have different experiences, but it was in this moment where I recognized my own blindness. In my own depiction of the holiday I envisioned it similar for everyone. However, Ronald's feelings about this time of year caught me by surprise for yet another lesson.

So I am not very sure what to do here, but in the moment I felt it to be very important to attempt to empathize with Ronald, to tell him that I cared about him and how much it meant to share this troubling time for him. The conversation continued and eventually ended with Ronald shooting a
rubberband at me because I cut on him. However, even though the conversation ended a while later with some playfulness I am doing what I can continue to allow this lesson to remain in my head.  

This brings to mind an important recognition of what the holidays can be for others also. I hope to be more compassionate and open to the possibly differing feelings towards this time of year. I have seen this beautifully done for years at different churches I have attended and not even recognized the power and hospitality that is incorporated in that. The holidays can be beautiful, in the joy and expectation and even in the memories, I just hope to continue to be a part of a community that reminds me to keep that open mind in the midst of our differing experiences.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Photo of the Week! Thanksgiving...Belated!

I know its a bit belated but I wanted to share just a couple of photos from Thanksgiving! We had a pretty huge gathering this year and my parents were actually able to join which is always just so so much fun! 

Aprons were included in the dresscode...for some of us

I think the Thanksgiving Meal may have been a bit much for ole Jeffery!

This year the Powells were in  charge of bringing desserts, I'd say we delivered!

Self Caring!

Recently I have been in a lot of conversation about different things that help me rejuvenate and how do I take care of myself. I think it is awesome that I have a group of friends and coworkers that challenge me to think of that, but truthfully it has brought about some reflections that I thought I would take a moment to share.

I feel that deep down self care is seen as in some ways antithetical to the "American Way of Life." Since grade school I feel I had shoved into my head the idea that we were to work as hard as we could and to stop would be to not be working hard enough. Self care seems to be taking a moment to say I work hard and because I work hard I need to be intentional about making sure I do not burn myself out. In many ways this takes so much vulnerability and self analysis and honesty to ever say this. However, I actually thought this was weakness upon first coming out of undergrad. "Sleep when I die" was my saying and while I still wish I never had to sleep, I see the importance and I see the beauty of taking time away.

I believe that self care will be something that I continue to learn about for the rest of my life, but I am okay with that because I actually do feel that it is something that can cause me to accomplish things with more joy, less stress and all the while not burning out. So, I guess take care of yourself and how do we allow others to do the same?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Detroit is Eligible: Bankruptcy Begins

Posting this in two places on this blog, but big news today: 

Check out this article about the Detroit Bankruptcy filings and its a tough time here and for many it may get more difficult. I just pray that we are able to work through this process and better understand how we can possibly do this right.

"Judge Steven W. Rhodes of the United States Bankruptcy Court, found that Detroit was insolvent and that the pension checks of retirees could be cut during a bankruptcy proceeding, a crucial part of his decision."

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Picking Locks

Just a short funny story to share today:

Today I am approached by a long time volunteer saying he is unable to open up the volunteer desk. Well this is pretty strange as this desk is never  locked because we leave the key in the lock. Well of course that key has since disappeared and we are left with a locked desk. Quite the frustration. 

So of course this desk had to be opened, maybe not so much out of need, more so out of desire. A couple YouTube searches later and I am going at the lock armed with two paper clips and a determination that is more pride than anything else.

There were a couple times I was sure I had gotten it only to find the paper clip had simply slid sideways. Half dejected and defeated a good friend and volunteer pokes his head around the desk to ask "WHAT are you doing down there?" I explained the locked desk and my defeat. Eyeing the desk he simply told me to walk away and he'd take care of it. 

Skeptical if he would pick the lock or break the desk drawer open I walked away to complete some paperwork. Not 5 minutes later I hear "Ohh Brandon!" And to my surprise I find the desk drawers opened and my friend smiling and pointing. Of course I convinced him to show me how he did it and to let me do it myself and a lesson was learned! Never boring at NOAH!

I think today just reinstalled the differences that we find at NOAH. Clearly at no point in my life had I picked a lock, but NOAH has given me the gift of being able to be a part of a family of people that all have incredibly different backgrounds. I believe these experiences add to the richness of our family and certainly the most "interesting" moments. Now regardless the reason of why my friend knows how to pick a lock I find so much beauty in the conversation and community we can have now, working towards a common goal of serving with those who walk in our doors, unlocking things as we go.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


Its a Pumpkintastic day at NOAH!

On Wed of this past week we had a special event with our volunteers at the NOAH Project where we took 15 ordinary, average, boring looking pumpkins and morphed them into some beautiful works of art (some more pleasing to the eye than others). We declared October 30, a Pumpkintastic day, therefore if you know me and my obsession with pumpkin then this is practically the best day of the year for me. Anyway, the morning began with eggbakes galore and homemade cinnamon roles and i must admit a little pumpkin spice creamer in the morning coffee. The main event of the day was carving pumpkins! I believe it is in moments like this when we are all working on a simple project and just enjoying time together that we are able to continue to get to know one another and our experiences. All in all a great day for community and a great day to show off some artistic abilities all the while celebrating Halloween a bit differently!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Photo of the Week- Hands 4 Detroit!

This week's pictures come from a huge event put on by the United Methodist Church. This is an annual event where here are several different sites for volunteer opportunities. N.O.A.H. was of course one such site! Well of course we were worried because it is very out of the ordinary for N.O.A.H. to have a saturday meal, so who would come? Well we did a little advertising and well we had a fantastic turn out! There was chili and hotdogs galore and we were able to spend all day saturday with volunteers from Birmingham First UMC. After serving and brief visit from the bishop, we all gathered for a worship service to hear some of the final numbers of what was done and about other worksites. 1,700 people joined in the work for a day of service and an attempt to build partnerships with people in Detroit! An awesome day to see so many people involved and so much good work done!