January 2014 Posts

Rachel’s Lens // Hesitant Broncos Fan

So, I moved here from Philly. This much has been established on this blog. And like a lot of you Broncos fans out there, I’m a passionate sports fan. The Flyers, 76ers, Eagles, and my beloved Phillies have a very special place in my heart. I grew up taking the hour long drive into the city, going to The Vet to watch games. After the stadium was torn down, my family put a piece of leftover concrete and rebar in a plastic box in our basement to commemorate the place.

Did I mention I come from an entire family of passionate sports fans? Every wall in our basement has a theme; each Philadelphia sports team gets a wall. There are photos, puzzles, clocks, flags, jerseys…you name it, we’ve got it.

My parents even have a house in Florida…in the same town where Spring Training is held. Coincidence? I think not. (In case you were wondering, pitchers and catchers report in less than two weeks!)

So moving to Denver brought with it some growing pains, especially in my marriage. I married an Avs/Nuggets/Broncos/Rockies fan…a native. Our first knock down, drag out fight happened at Target because my husband wanted to register for a canvas photo of Coors Field. We were literally yelling at each  other in the aisles:
Me: Why would I have an opposing team’s stadium IN MY HOME?!
Him: It’s a good photo! You’re a photographer – you should appreciate that!

It was ugly. I called my dad and brother on the way home from the store to make sure I wasn’t being dramatic. For once, they agreed with me:
Brother: That’s ridiculous, why would you want to see that every day?
Dad: If you want to come to my home, you shouldn’t have that in yours.

All this to say that I have slowly but surely been sucked into watching every single Broncos game since I moved here. And ya know what? I haven’t hated it. (Ok, I did really hate the one that I actually saw in person because they killed the Eagles.)

But I’ve accepted I’m a Denverite. I need to embrace the hype, or at the very least, not rain on anyone’s parade. So for the next three days, I will wear my orange and blue and cheer for the Broncos. If you were good enough for B. Dawkins, you’re good enough for me.

But you better believe that as I fall asleep on Sunday, I will be dreaming of my wonderful Eagles.

Go Broncos.

this is me, showing my support.

this is me, showing my support.

PJ Day is February 6 // Join the Effort

Whether you get cozy in a pair of flannel pajamas or settle for a t-shirt each night, the majority of you own some type of pajamas. You have a bed, a bedroom, a home. You have a place to sleep.

PJ Day is Feb 6th – just days away. It marks the annual day our city has settled on to create awareness around homelessness. This is my fourth year as a volunteer on the planning committee for PJ Day and the PJ Party. I’m honored to be part of this exceptional group. Mostly, I’m amazed at the amount of time and energy these volunteers and our community put forth for PJ Day – with one goal in mind – to make certain people have a place to sleep every night.

Denver Rescue Mission has been linked with Denver’s Road Home since it began back in 2005. Through the years, many strides have been made in services for the homeless.

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Schools participating in PJ Day have their students answer the question, “What Home Means to Me” with a drawing.

This year feels especially important as the Mission continues to operate an emergency shelter through the winter. Thanks to the partnership with DRH and hard-working staff who run this shelter each night – hundreds of men have a place to lay their heads.

Join the PJ Day efforts at pjday.org and follow along with #PJDayDen.

Conversations About Anything // Duncan Shaw

Written by Rachel Greiman, Writer & Photographer

Written by Rachel Greiman, Writer & Photographer

This series was inspired by the book Anything written by Jennie Allen. Please follow me as I struggle with life’s difficult questions and walk down the path to find my “anything”!

When you first meet Duncan, you might describe him as gruff. He’s one of those quiet guys and definitely isn’t smiley. But give him a couple minutes, because once he warms up, you’ll find a tender heart and a deep love for people. Especially people who can be hard to love. He is someone who lives his life so others can succeed. He is no stranger to shame, but also a friend to grace.

Most “anything” prayers are about taking something on, starting a new task or following God to a new opportunity. But Duncan’s was about giving something up.

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Rachel Greiman: Did you ever pray a prayer like “anything”?
Duncan Shaw: My wife and I, 15 years ago, started praying and feeling like God was calling us to do something else with our lives. Something more, something deeper. We started praying, “God, take out anything in our lives that is keeping us from doing whatever you want us to do.” We wanted him to uproot any weeds that were keeping us from serving Him. And that’s one of those prayers that you need to be careful about praying.

RG: Why?
DS: As a couple, we prayed a similar prayer.  But alone, I prayed, “God, I will do anything you want. As long as you let me keep drinking. I’ll do anything BUT stop drinking.” In hindsight, you realize why things happen. God answered that prayer by saying, “I’ll take your drinking. I’ll take your job. I’ll take your house. I’ll take everything so that you have nothing else to rely on except for me.”

RG: And what did life look like for you guys then?
DS: We were barely scraping by. Two years into the marriage, she didn’t realize how much I was drinking. I would tell her I stopped and had a beer, but it would actually mean that I drove around drinking a quart of malt liquor. That continued for another two years. I knew there was an issue, but I didn’t want to look at it.

RG: So what made you finally look at it?
DS: I got caught for embezzling cash from my job. Fortunately, they didn’t prosecute. They could have. But I got fired. I went home and had to explain it all to my wife.

RG: What was that explanation like?
DS:  To my wife, I had had an affair, it just wasn’t with another person, it was with a bottle. I had lied, cheated, kept secrets. I gave part of myself to alcohol that should have gone to my wife and family.

RG: This is when the turning point happened?
DS: Yep, this is when it snowballed. I lost everything and we couldn’t afford anything. At the time, we went to a small church. My wife and I ran the Children’s Ministry. I wanted to get up in front of the congregation and tell them. I didn’t care if people judged me. There was a huge relief to it. I wanted everything out in the open. No more secrets.

RG: 15 years ago, you lost everything, had a radical transformation…but how did you keep afloat?
DS: People came alongside us. They said, “Yes, you have a drinking problem. And?” I always thought that if people knew my secret, if they knew what I was really like, they wouldn’t like me. But within four months, a man in our congregation gave me a construction job and I knew nothing about construction. I worked for him for two and a half years. Having that faith community around us made all the difference in the world.

RG: Where did the strength for long-term sobriety come from?
DS: I firmly believe that any addiction is an outward symptom of an internal disease. Everybody struggles, but there is something about addicts that is different. I was an extreme introvert and I never felt like I measured up in any way. Alcohol and some other drugs allowed me to step outside my own self-doubt and become somebody that could talk to people, somebody that acted and felt confident. It was a coping mechanism that stopped working. When it stopped working, addiction began. It wasn’t security anymore, it was everything. I couldn’t admit it because it would be showing everybody and myself that I was always what I thought I was: worthless.

When I realized that I wanted to stay sober and deal with the underlying problem, which was my huge feeling of inadequacy, I learned why I felt that way. Not when or how it started, but why.

RG: So how did you get to the Mission?
DS: We uprooted our three kids and moved to Colorado in 2001. I went to school to finish my bachelor’s degree and then got a counseling degree. Everyone has always told me I was a good listener. When everything cleared up with my addiction, I wanted to go get trained to do what God had already gifted me to do. I got an internship at the Farm. I didn’t want to work with addicts. I thought it was too close to home. I quickly learned what a huge benefit I had. I could hear the lies they were telling themselves very quickly.

RG: You’ve now worked there for seven years. Do you think your past evokes respect from the guys in the program?
DS: I think it does. One of the biggest reasons I’m here is to be able to show these guys that you can do it. You can have a life free of addictions. I have a happy, normal life because I understand this thing called grace and this thing called love. It’s not a life of misery, just trying to make it through one day at a time, like the life of an addict.

RG: You prayed the “anything” prayer and God took away the one thing you didn’t want to give up and has given you a life where you pour into others. What has been the most difficult thing about that?
DS: The most difficult thing is that we constantly deal with failure. God has put [my wife and I] in a position where we constantly deal with people who are struggling and failing in life. The hardest thing is that God gives you a desire to help these people, but you’re around failure and negativity all the time. Sometimes I get to a point where I ask, “Does anyone have a happy life?”

RG: So where is the joy in it?
DS: As depressing as it may sound, I am more fulfilled now than I have ever been in my life. I feel like I’m doing what I was made to do. As dark and as dreary as it can be, there are happy endings. One of the first guys I ever counseled at the Farm is still doing very well. He is the son of a pastor of our church. It still hits me because I see his mom at church once a month. I saw her last week, and she came up and said, “By the way, I don’t know if I tell you this enough, but thank you for giving me my son back.” Those are the times that make me remember why I’m doing this.

Duncan’s story, to the casual reader, is presumably about shame. But to me, it’s about redemption. Rather than seeing it through the lens of judgment, he invited me to share my own struggles. He is the kind of man that creates safe places for confession and healing. He has adopted his church’s motto of, “Me too.”

You struggle? You have secrets? “Me too.”

Duncan’s story shows that if we walk in obedience, God can redeem every part of our stories for His glory. I would love to hear your stories about God’s redeeming love.

Rachel’s Lens // News

Have you ever had a season of life that is just full of news? Everyone has something to share and you feel like there is something happening in every social circle of your life?

If you have, then you can probably say an “amen” with me to this post. Unfortunately, I’ve found that these seasons can be exhausting because not all news is exciting. Some can be devastating. And when your friends and family require your response to the equally exciting and devastating news at the same time, there is a whirlwind of emotions. It’s so hard to say “Congratulations!” and “I’m so, so sorry” in the same day. When you bear the burden of your loved ones, you want to fully experience sorrow and fully celebrate joy. I want to sit in the silence with friends that need it and throw a party for those that deserve it.

The past two weeks have thrown me for a “capital L” L.O.O.P. I am in a season of news. I am having such a difficult time tracking my own emotions and finding the quiet voice of the Lord to tell me, “Here is the way.” I was expressing this tension at bible study this morning and a friend directed me to a verse, Romans 12:15 … Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.

It’s a simple command really. And thought it doesn’t provide a coping mechanism, it is as if scripture is nodding it’s head with me, saying, “Girl, me too.” This isn’t specific to me; this is specific to life. We are called to be empathetic, whatever emotional toll it takes on our own lives. I have leaned on my community in times of need and in times of happiness. It is time to be present for those same people.

As I write my thoughts, I immediately think of our program participants whose lives are full of news:

We found a place to live!
Our landlord is kicking us out.

I got a new job!
I got laid off again.

I’m feeling the love of the Lord today!
Where is God in my struggle?

Life demands response from all of us. We, the Church, are the body of Christ. Our staff are working to be the body of Christ for the hungry and hurting in Denver. Which means we are the shoulder for one another to lean on, the arms to embrace and the eyes to cry. My prayer is that we can find peace during the times when we are called to be all of those things for different people. Will you pray that with me this week?

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Buy One the Mission Gets One

One of my favorite meals at Maddie’s Restaurant is the Huevos Rancheros Plate. It’s spicy and comforting – especially on a cold day like today! You might be unaware that this quaint breakfast and lunch spot is a big supporter of the Mission.

Maddie’s owner Gayor Geller has supported us for nearly ten years through the Last Waltz Revisited concert held each November. When Maddie’s opened up a year ago, Gayor asked if the restaurant could do a meal match for their grand opening. I was thrilled!

MADDIES ANNIVERSARY

On their first birthday, Maddie’s will offer a meal match – which basically means that for every meal sold this Saturday and Sunday – one meal will be donated to the Mission. One meal at the Mission = $1.92.

Congratulations on your first year in business Maddie’s! I am stoked to try the Nutella pancakes this weekend.

Rachel’s Lens // The Good Samaritan

I go to a church who has the same service heart as Denver Rescue Mission. In fact, a lot of my coworkers are also members there. I spent this past weekend with a group of precious friends from church. We discussed how we can serve the refugees in our community better. We have a wonderful group of people that come to our church, who are struggling with the language, are adjusting to cultural differences and trying to find jobs…but they come. They have found value in the service and in the relationships. This weekend, our group was trying to understand how we can make both of those things better.

I was asked to read the parable of the Good Samaritan during our last session. As I read the words, I started to think about work and how intertwined it is with the principles in this parable. I have seen men, women and children who have needed this help. Who have needed neighbors. They are at the Lawrence Street Shelter each day to eat a meal. Most of the time, people come in alone and eat alone. Everyone else has passed over to the proverbial other side of the street.

The Good Samaritan put the injured man, the stranger, on his own animal. He went out of his way to take him to an inn. He could have stopped there. But he didn’t. He paid for days of service, promising to come back and cover the rest of the cost. He checked in, he invested, he helped solve the problem.

This is something else that I see every day at work. Denver is one of the largest sites in the country for accepting refugees. That community is growing each year as people resettle and try to find community. The Mission commits to being a part of that community, but not just by providing resources. Our staff, volunteers and donors are investing: in life change, in results, in solutions. One of my coworkers once said to me, “Rachel, refugees are the homeless of the world.” It was such a significant correlation for me to make. And I’m so glad that Denver Rescue Mission has made it as well.

I feel like, as Christians, we are constantly seeking perfect community. A good church, good neighbors, solid friendships, etc. But a lot of those goals are self-seeking. What makes me comfortable? What makes me feel good? Really, we should be seeking opportunities to enter into the situations that are out of our comfort zone. We need to seek out tough relationships and offer Christ. His words, compassion, and most of all, his love.

I am continually humbled by the people in my life, at church and at work. I pray that I never lose sight of the good work that happens all around me.

Rachel’s Lens // “He Loves Me, Not He Loves Me But”

Is it just me or did this feel like the longest week ever?

Luckily I got to end it on a really cool note. I interviewed a coworker, Duncan, for my next Anything blog post.

His story is truly amazing and I have the post-interview high where I feel so blessed to hear the way God works in people’s lives.

Stay tuned for an inspiring look into Duncan’s life. For now, I’ll leave you with a quote:

“I could identify everyone by the shoes they wore. I had so much shame that I never looked people in the face. Out of that situation came the freedom to accept what God was telling me. I heard Him tell me that He loves me, not He loves me, but…”

 

He Really Cares About Them

So…. I think you all may have seen the video going around on social media sites. If you haven’t, watch it here.

This pastor cares – I mean he really cares. He’s doing something about it to make the lives of these precious children better. He is giving them a future and hope. Just like you. When you volunteer and donate to the Mission, you are giving people like Michael and Sarah have a new life.

“When others may ignore this issue, he does the work that society is neglecting.” And the pastor made a commitment, “God, I will die for these children.”

On my commute into work I was thinking about what I really care about – would I die for anything? I don’t want this to be just another story I tear up watching. I want it to inspire me to do greater things for others. To be brave. To dive deep into a cause and do what I can to make life better for someone. Who’s with me?

Leave a comment below about your thoughts!! I wanna read them…!

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#MissionVolunteers // ADT Guest Blogger

I love hearing from our volunteers about their serving experience. We usually go into a volunteer opportunity with the mind set of, “I’m going to help them.” But we typically leave saying, “That experienced changed me.” Isn’t that cool? We, as the volunteers, leave transformed.

ADT Always Cares  sponsored our Thanksgiving Banquet where hundreds of homeless men, women and children enjoy a great traditional meal. But they did more than just send a nice check, they served alongside us!

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Written by: Dori Saad, Working on Behalf of ADT

It’s November 27th, 2013 and I am having breakfast with my fellow ADT Always Cares Volunteers before we head to Denver Rescue Mission to serve Thanksgiving Dinner.

When we arrived to the The Crossing, Ms. Tuesday was kind enough to guide me. Once checked in, hair net in place, I was ready to stack the donuts. Upon completion of our kitchen duties we were assigned our serving stations. I could not believe my luck, I was serving Turkey!!!

I  wanted to  be sure I fulfilled my duty to make the guests feel welcomed. I was overwhelmed with joy when the guests started thanking me for serving them and being there. I was so humbled by these gracious individuals that were genuinely thrilled to have a hot, traditional Thanksgiving feast! Needless to say, I will be back at Denver Rescue Mission to serve again in January.

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I want to hear from more volunteers. Tell me about your experience using #MissionVolunteers when posting on Facebook or Twitter. Or leave a comment below!

 

Rachel’s Lens // A Word For 2014

This is the week when all the bloggers of the world publicly choose a word to live by for the rest of the year. Some people have bracelets made, other people write posts about it (here, here and here), some hang up banners to have a visual all year long, and there are even entire websites dedicated to your one word.

I have never done this before, but as someone who is firmly against resolutions, I really do like idea of just trying to stick with one word. A single word to guide my thoughts, actions and prayers for a whole year. Talk about intentional and focused – I need both those things so let’s just give this a try.

So, my word for 2014:

ASSURANCE.

I originally liked it because of the song Blessed Assurance, but two of the definitions got me hooked:       

1. A statement or indication that inspires confidence; a guarantee or pledge
2. Freedom from doubt

Who wouldn’t want to live that way? Free from questioning? With absolute, unadulterated trust? This word represents what I want to give others: confidence in the truth and in their faith. It also is how I want to live: boldly and with certainty, not questioning God’s sovereignty or His plans for my life.

If you have picked a word for 2014, I would love to hear what it is and also your reasoning! Feel free to comment below.

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