Friday, January 03, 2014

I've changed my mind

Exactly 6 years ago you would have pegged me as a red state conservative, Bush loving, Republican bot. It would have been easy to tell, based on Facebook rants (who thought we would even coin a term like that), and the sheer ignorance in which I spoke.  I thought the poor were lazy, and food stamps needed to be more shameful for users.  I thought people in poverty were there by their own choices.  I thought big business was the best idea, and that's what will lift people out of poverty. I thought only teenagers worked for minimum wage. I felt I was doing to poor a favor and would judge them out of poverty.  I thought if you needed help it was easy to get.  I thought that "cheating the system" was a way to live like a king. I wanted there to be more hoops for the people who needed help to jump through.  I thought if a person needed help it was a consequence of their own behavior.  I thought that people cheated the system for a living.  I even thought there shouldn't be welfare, but just let them eat cake.

Yes, this is how I lived.  I didn't care about the "fellow man," I certainly didn't care about social injustices. That was until I started looking around.  Because of my job, I was thrust into a seat at the table of the poor. I met person after person and heard story after story.  Their stories cut me to the core.  They gave me chills.  They forced me to see an alternative to my thoughts. They showed me just how hard it is to be in their situations.  They made me feel 2 inches tall.

I was at a chasm.  Do I continue to hold these beliefs, or do I accept people's testimonies?  Do I continue to turn my head, or do I look them straight in the eyes?  It was like God shined a light and I had to either put on sunglasses or see what He was showing me.

I chose to change my mind.  I chose to not judge a person.

What I've learned?  The system is extremely confusing.  It's not set up for emergencies.  If you need help because you lost your job.... stand in line and you'll get help in a month.  I found that people in poverty are some of the most loving and generous people I know.  I found that consequences are the reason people need help, but that it's not usually their's.  I learned that food stamps are not enough, and charity isn't either.  I learned that big business isn't pulling anyone out of poverty, and neither is the economy. I figured out why Jesus hung out with these people.  I learned that single mothers work for minimum wage.  I learned that what I thought was reality was republican rhetoric.  I learned that the poor were pawns of the democrats, and that neither party truly cares.

So are you saying you're a Democrat Broc?  No, I am not saying that at all.  I am saying that politics are less than humans.  Don't be jaded by a political party.  Don't let some guy in Washington tell you what reality is, experience it for yourself.  Look outside the fray, and you will find something that challenges the things you hold.  As Mother Teresa says, "Come and see."

Monday, January 07, 2013

Judgemental

That's what a lot of people are being these days.  I have seen many people malign another group of people because, as if it should be a surprise, they are different.  I have especially seen this in Christians who also happen to be conservative.  It's like they forget what the Bible says when it conflicts with their political agenda.  I mean Jesus was adamant about the widows, orphans, and the poor, but that seems to be lost on them. I mean they would rather line up at the local chicken fast food restaurant to make a statement, than deciding to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and guide the lost... those are thing Christ actually said to do.

I don't want to sound cynical, but I have just seen so much, and I always think: I bet they would think differently if they lived in poverty even for just a week.  I think if they had been raised with the background of those they malign, they might see how the person thinks, acts, feels.  They might see that they make poor choices, because they have no role model who's ever taught them to make good choices.  We are in two consecutive generations without fathers, and I will be honest, we are seeing the effects that come with a nation that mother's it's children, but they doesn't father them.

The poor have made bad decisions, yes,  this is so true.  You have made bad decisions, but you had more resources, which limits the effects.

I recently met a lady at a food giveaway and I asked her some questions about herself.  The book opened and she told me how she had a job, no husband, two kids and her car broke down.  When she took it to the shop they told her it would be $7000 to fix it, which she realizes now was them taking advantage of her.  She was desparate, because her boss was not an understanding man; she could not miss work.  She went to buy a car, and she found a used one that was not super nice, but was a car.  She financed it at the dealership, with a 21% APR.... she could not qualify anywhere else.  Needless to say, the car was repoed and she lost her job.  Remember she's got two kids to think about... She shifted into survival mode.

People purposely set out to take advantage of the poor, with interest rates they have no idea are bad.  They have no one to turn to to see if that's a good thing, and yet we would see this lady using her food stamp card and might think in our minds of how she's "just abusing the system."  All of this is happening in her life, and yet we feel like being judgmental is the way to be.

Grace people.  People of grace, and love.  

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

The Problem


I have noticed, mostly because it's an election year, a large majority of Christians who are wanting certain morality legislation from the US Government.  I think it's indicative of the Body of Christ who has lost its way while allowing ourselves to become complacent, much like the children of Israel as they came out of slavery in Exodus.  The problem with Christianity today is that Christians are looking to the government to solve problems that the Church has the power to do ourselves. 

If you want morality to return to the nation, you claim is gone, then you be the one who instills it by causing a culture change. If you really want to change the state of this nation then you have to be part of the process, you cannot rely on the government to legislate morality, because you CANNOT legislate MORALITY.  It's a choice that you make as an individual. 

While I am on this subject, I have heard a lot of people talking about social services, and that the government should not be doing this, the church should.  I think that's a great idea, why don't you start that right now.  The truth is, the government stepped in when the church changed its focus and stopped helping feed the poor, and helping the widows and the orphans.  Because the church stopped the government has a moral, ethical obligation to help those in need. If you're a Christian who is mad because your tax dollars are being spent to help those in need, you needn't look any farther than the end of your nose. 

It's our fault that the nation is in the moral decay.  We can blame, the Republicans, or the Democrats  or Washington all together.  You can blame this person or that one, but at the end of the day, it was the Christians who caused it.  We are the ones who should be above reproach, but obviously humans who miss the mark, but instead we shunned people with different ideas, and buried our heads in the sand. 

We should be investing our time and energy into others, so that they might find the hope and promise that we have.  We must stop looking at the government, and especially The Presidents, to solve the problems that WE HAVE BEEN GIVEN to SOLVE on our own. 

So, where do we start? It's starts with you owning your flaws, knowing you're weak, trusting on God to make up the difference, and then go out and change the world around you.  As momentum builds, you will see how the culture of the country changes as well.  

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

the poor.

I remember when I started my nonprofit journey at the Food Bank and many people said, "You'll find that the poor are easy targets."  I remember thinking that couldn't be true, who on earth could villainize the poor? My, how quickly I began to realize that was the most true statement I have ever heard.

No truer was it made clear to me about the disconnect between the poor and the privileged than while speaking to a group of college students and one asked me what I thought about all the misuse of food stamps and people who abuse the government's "hand-outs."  I remember pausing, and thinking what an arrogant statement.  After all, he was sitting in a college classroom, learning about media, and obviously had a support system in line to achieve his dreams.  "Well, you're are blessed.  You are sitting here taking college courses, obviously your parents instilled good values and such that makes it possible for you sit here.  The flip side is that not everyone was raised, experienced, and has had the opportunities you have had."  For the first time, he realized how crass his comments came out, and how blessed he was.  I went right in to talking about how we have got to reach out to those around us.

I recently went to Washington DC, and now I understand why the poor are easy targets.  They are easy targets because they have no money.  I was disgusted by the ridiculousness of DC.  If this is the suppose nucleus of our government, I feel that we are failing.  There are elevators, for "members only," yes this is for the elected officials who are so busy they just can't be in the same elevators as common folk.  We met with some of our local elected officials, and while telling them about the plight of constituents in there area, we were lambasted with false accusations of the poor.  We were told they get multiple calls about people abusing the system.  Yes, we understand, there are some who choose to do the wrong thing.  I wanted to ask them if their boss, the congressman, had ever taken a trip in exchange for a vote?  Because in my mind, I feel like that is just as corrupt.  Money talks in Washington.  Whoever has the most wins, and I am sure George Washington, is mortified with what he sees.

The poor are easy targets and pawns in the game that is called "law making."


Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Are you pro-life or pro-birth?

Because to me there is a huge distinction.  Let me first say that I am 100% unequivocally pro-life.  Sadly, I think many people who think they are pro-life are actually pro-birth.  What's the difference?  Well, I am glad you asked.

I have heard countless people, mostly of the Christian faith, boldly speak about their beliefs against abortion.  They make the claims that abortion at anytime is murder.  They speak of the consequences and how the after effects of this "murder" are long lasting and deeply rooted.  They fight for the rights of the unborn baby.  They praise mothers who "made the right choice," and have sympathy for the ones "who didn't."

All the time we are fighting for the baby to be born.  I think we are missing a HUGE problem.  The baby is born, usually to a single mother...... then what?

What kind of life is the baby going to have?  What stability is he/she going to have?  Chances are, if the baby was unplanned (outside of marriage) the mother and father (who is probably out of the picture) doesn't have the skills or discipline or encouragement to provide a loving and thriving home.  We must be willing to help.  Help navigate, adopt, or be part of the village that creates a place for the child to grow.  I know what's you're thinking.  It's the responsibility of the mother.  Yes, you say that and you're obviously educated and raised by great parents.  Well, not everyone is so lucky.  Some people had parents who didn't teach their children how to live, thrive, and love.  They taught them just to survive, needless to say no lessons on consequences.

If we put our necks our there and want to end abortion than we had also better be willing to be part of the solution.  I see daily, in my job, what happens to a mother who refuses to abort.  It's a hard life, and lacking a support system.  It's a group that preaches about ending abortion, and yelling that single mothers are bilking the the system.  Many of the children who's mothers chose to carry the baby to full term will need the assistance of various programs (CHiP, SNAP, TANF). This system is not easy to navigate, and many will need YOUR help.

It does take a community to raise a child.  Are you part of that community?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

where is grace.......

I hate religion.  I really can't think of anything I hate more than it, and let me tell you why.  It is my belief that Jesus did not mean for His followers to develop into what we see today.  I am not saying that going to church, or the corporate body of believers is wrong, because clearly the Bible is clear about being together in faith.  I am talking about all the things that were added to the faith.  I imagine they came along because of someone else's struggle with those things.  One example there of, is the subject of alcohol.  No where in the Bible does it say that alcohol is forbidden.  In fact, quite the opposite.  Jesus in His first miracle turned water into wine.  Now, many say that the "wine" was just grape juice, and while there is no Biblical evidence that this is the case, I will say that I completely agree.  The wine that Jesus turned from water was grape juice, it had be put in a huge vat and allowed to ferment, and then it be came wine.  It is taught in many churches that alcohol is just a terrible thing and should be avoided at all costs.  Well, I think that teaching comes right out of the speakers flesh  due to past hurts and traumas.  I imagine the speaker to have struggled with alcohol and is trying to protect his people from going down the same path.  The problem with such things is, that it creates a lie.  Alcohol has never hurt a single soul.  Yes the effects of too much are bad, but the Bible does point out to not get intoxicated.  And yes there are alcoholics, but in my opinion its not the drink that's the problem, it's the past hurts.  When we don't deal with our emotions and problems we find  a way to medicate them.  My pastor spoke about this, this past weekend, and I couldn't help but think about it all week.

To understand "religion" you have to understand what I am talking about.  Religion is man-made, it's not biblical, or sound doctrine.  It's adding to, or interpreting the scriptures through your flesh and setting up what I like to call road blocks.  It happens like this, there are a lot of teens having premarital sex.  So, then you make everyone dress overly modest, and keep boys and girls separate.  Making girls chant, modest is hottest.  Girls have to wear dresses that are 4.5 inches past the knee.  They are not allowed to swim together.  And so on, and on.  That's effectively setting up a road block.  You are addressing the fruit of the issue and not the root of the issue.  How about approaching that by empowering them with messages that build character, accountability, and trust.  How about setting up a mentoring program that focuses on self worth.  How about teaching them the realities of what decisions made too early can do to you.  Anyways, you get my point.

Also, we use religion as our exclusionary clause.  If you don't look or act like me then you're just not part of the clique.  This "righteous" arrogance is the worst.  We have all been saved with the same amount of grace.  And that's the worst part about religion... it keeps grace from being part of the equation.  Grace is a free gift.  It's not something that should be discussed and decided upon... it should just be given.

Anyways, I saw these videos and I think they touch on the topic very well.  I am that water bottle.... we all are.  


Saturday, December 31, 2011

Oh, Oh, Twenty Eleven

So, it's the start of a new year, and I must be completely honest, I couldn't be happier about it.  Twenty eleven hasn't been the best year for me and Kaylee.  While it has been a bit of a whirlwind of craziness there have been some really touching moments that have been nothing but pure joy.

Starting the year off
On January 1, we started the year with my granddad passing way.  It was completely unexpected and of course it wasn't how I thought I would be spending the first few hours of a new year.  Later that month, Kaylee had an immense pain in her side.  It was so intense we went to the emergency room, they did an ultrasound and determined she had a kidney stone.  I don't know if you've had one of these, but it's said to be worse pain than childbirth.  In childbirth your body dilates, and prepares to birth the child.  With kidney stones, there is no dilation and your body is pushing the stone through your ureter, which is as wide as a hair follicle.  In other words... OUCH!  We went to Dr. Kibbey (if you EVER need a urologist, he is the best in Amarillo) and he did a procedure and Kaylee was able to pass the stone.  We were really blessed to have Dr. Kibbey, he's the nicest man, and also the best at what he does.

Las Vegas
There was a Feeding America conference in Las Vegas, and my boss asked me to go.  He said it would also be fine if Kaylee went too.  So, we went, and I must say Vegas was so much fun.  This was my first conference for Feeding America, and everyone there was my colleague of counterpart, and I made a ton of connections.  In communications you cannot ever have enough contacts.  Of course, since Kaylee was there with me, the evenings were a blast too.  We had so much fun, going shopping, eating great food, and of course just people watching. Kaylee had fun too, to laid by the pool and went shopping while I was in meetings all day.  The neatest thing that happened were tickets to Beatles Love that we were given.  This is a Circ De Soleil production that is everything Beatles.  It's a live action play set to the music of  The Beatles.  I cannot tell you how amazing it is.  The tickets retail for around $100 each, and it is worth EVERY penny.  The imagery, costumes, story, sets, and actors are incredible.  There are no words spoken, but the story is all about love.  

July was big month
We started the month of with a much needed anniversary trip to Dallas.  We stayed in the coolest hotel in Frisco called the NYLO.  We had so much fun together, we did EVERYTHING we wanted to and just really enjoyed the time together.  We ate great food, explored, and I got to do one of my favorite things in the world; I got to go to Ikea.  Oh, you don't know how much I love that place.  I got to introduce it to Kaylee, who was less than impressed with it, but we found some fun things to add to our house.  Also in July we got to welcome our newest nephew (making it 4 nephews) Tucker Thomas Miesner to world.   Its was so special, because he's the first child for Marty and Teela.  He is just so special, and incredible all wrapped in a tiny little package.  Towards the end of the month, I was slated to go to Chicago for another Feeding America Conference.  This one was specifically for people who do what I do in their Food Banks.  I have never been to Chicago, and since we didn't know just when Tucker was going to be born we had not planned on Kaylee attending with me.  Let me just say, I love Chicago.  I had to ride the subway from the airport to the hotel, and it was on.  Of course, it would have been way better if Kaylee could have joined me.  The conference was a great resource for me.  I learned a ton and also was able to make even more connections. Just before I boarded the plane to head to Chicago, I received a text from my sister that my brother-in-law was being airlifted to hospital.  He had been a in a very bad ATV accident, and broke his C2 vertebrae on both sides.  Only God could keep him from being paralyzed.  He is recovering from this even today, and THANKFULLY he hasn't had any complications.

August through September
As soon as I got back from Chicago Kaylee and I had the pleasure to start looking into buying a house.  I'll be honest, this was a little bit of a crazy time.  Kaylee wanted an old home with character and trees, and I wanted a new newer home without having to remodel.  I am not the handiest man in the world and I didn't think I had what it took to do intensive remodeling.  So, we started, we looked at some she picked and we looked at some I picked.  We realized and appreciated each others tastes, but still felt like we wanted what we wanted.  In other words, neither was budging.  I could appreciate older homes with character, but I thought about how old is was and the maintenance required.  Kaylee could see my point in the newer homes, which the larger kitchens and master suites.  Newer homes don't have those extremely weird add-ons that many of the older homes have.  We literally saw the ugliest homes in Amarillo.  (Here's a tip people, if you are selling your home, clean it, put stuff away, and make sure your house doesn't stink!) We had seen like 45 houses and there was nothing we wanted to put an offer on, and we were just about to lie low for a little bit and wait for more houses to be put on the market, when Kaylee screamed, "I just found our house."  I replied, "WHAT???"   This perfect house on Harrison had just lowered the price into our price range, and we booked an appointment immediately.  We walked in and instantly we fell in love.  Of course, my mind started racing, "Ok, if we offer them this we can settle on this."  The house was the perfect mix of what Kaylee and I both wanted. It was built in 1928, had all hardwood floors, and had been completely remodeled.  We made an offer, and after some negotiating, we were able to buy the home of our dreams in our dream neighborhood.  Our Realtor was Hayley Johnson with Parkview Realty.  SHE was Phenomenal!  I highly recommend her.     ***Disclaimer*** It wasn't that easy.  The home was listed by Carol Burnett, and let me just tell you, if you ever see a home listed by her, go to the next one.  She lied about the new roof the owners just had put on.  She advertised and listed it as having a Class 4 roof.  A class 4 roof is made stronger and is more hail resistant.  It gives you a cheaper rate on your home insurance, and she just made it up and didn't tell us until the 11th hour of our ten day option period. She poorly represented the home owners, and just showed little class.  I would not recommend her.

October and on
In October I participated in a sleep study.  I had tonsillitis in 2008 and since that time I have had an awful time sleeping.  The study proved that I indeed had sleep apnea.  It's a condition where you stop breathing while sleeping.  It's very dangerous.  I mentioned it to my dentist, Eddy Sauer, and he just so happens, to specialize in treating it.  He did a CT scan of my head and it showed just how narrow my tonsils and uvula make my airway.  He suggested a mouth piece that will pull my lower jaw forward and open the airway (much like when giving CPR).  Another doctor suggested that I also take a look at getting my tonsils taken out.  I didn't want my tonsils out, it's a very traumatic surgery for adults.  Stacie Morgan is a friend of my sister's to I met with her (She's also an Ear Nose and Throat Doctor).  We set up surgery for December 14th.  It's a two week recovery.  Well, contrary to the horror stories I was told, it was not that bad.  I just felt like I had a sore throat for about two weeks.  Everything was going great, until on December 21st, Kaylee came home form work and as soon as she walked in the door, I knew something was wrong.  I said, "What's wrong."  She sheepishly replied, "I have pain in my back on my left side."  My mind started racing, and I  knew instantly is was another kidney stone.  She called Dr. Kibbey and he said, come now.  I was still on hydrocodone, and couldn't go with her.  He did s CT scan, and she indeed had a very big one.  Dr. Kibbey didn't think she could pass it and was afraid of it blocking and shutting off the kidney, he ordered a stint to be put in the next day.  That would be Dec. 22nd, a week after my surgery.  I was still on pain meds, and she was going to be put under anesthesia so neither of us could drive.  So, thank God, Kaylee's mom was in town and could drive us.  You know I see celebrities use car services all the time, and I have to say that it's really not as fun as it looks.  Kaylee did great, and Dr. Kibbey was pleased, but no one told us how uncomfortable the stint makes you.  We went home, and both Kaylee and I were exhausted and pretty much useless.  Luckily I felt good enough to get off pain meds, and was able to drive us the next day.  We had a great Christmas (as great as we could, Kaylee was in a lot of pain from the stint).  Then on Dec. 27th, just one day before two weeks from surgery, the scab on my surgery wounds came off and it started bleeding uncontrollably.  We called the Doctors office and they said to gargle with extremely  cold water for 10 minutes.  45 later it was still really bad, so we went to the ER.  Oh, the ER where all the fun is happening.  We were seen and they they admitted me for observation.  Now, I will tell you, our visit to BSA was not a good one.  No one looked at my throat the whole night.  The on-call doctor from Dr. Morgan's office didn't come see me either.  To make the situation worse, the on-call doctor did not tell Dr. Morgan that I was in the hospital and he was off the next day.  Thank God Kaylee went to work the next morning, because she works in the same office building as Dr. Morgan and went and said something to her nurse.  Needless to say Dr. Morgan was mortified that I was at the hospital and she didn't know.  She is the greatest Doctor.  She came up and said she was sorry, which she didn't need to do.  She  said, "Broc, you were spitting up cups of blood, and we only worry when it's buckets.  You didn't the right thing coming to the ER, but they should have let you go as soon as the bleeding stopped."  She checked my throat and said it looked good, and wrote the orders so we could leave.  We got home and we were pretty broken.  The past two weeks had been pretty tumultuous, but we were alive. So, Kaylee had her follow up appointment and Dr. Kibbey felt like he could blast the stone now, it was a lot more visible.  He ordered it to be done that, which was great for insurance reasons.  He blasted the stone and was very happy that it broke into 3 or 4 pieces, and said Kaylee could easily pass them.  He asked her to come the next day and have the stint removed.  We arrived, Kaylee was nervous, but it happened quickly and she felt better instantly.  She has been passed pieces!

So that was our year.  Began sad, and ended crazy.  We have learned a lot about each other.  I must say, even though we went through the valley of a shadow of doubt, God is faithful.  It's interesting, when you go through a traumatic experience, it humbles you and gives you a great perspective.  You NEVER know what someone's back story is, so you cannot judge there current story.  Here's to 2012, and our trip the New York in February.