Gratefulness: Jeremy Bouman

Throughout the month of November, I want to take time to share about people or things I am grateful for over the past year.

Jeremy Bouman and I were at Starbucks catching up on life. Well, it was more than catching up. It was July 2017, and I was sharing with him how I would be resigning from Christ Community Church. I trusted him. He was one of the first individuals I told, and I valued any insight and wisdom he would share.

Jeremy and I met through our wives a few years previously, and had become friends. He was easy to talk to, and the more we conversed the more we connected on a lot of things. (Except baseball since he is a Yankees fan!)

One of the things I love about Jeremy is his heart for those who are incarcerated and their families. Jeremy is the Executive Director for Defy Nebraska, a non-profit that teams with community business leaders to go into prisons and work with those who are incarcerated so their skills can be utilized, lawfully, once they are released. More so, they provide a plan and a support base for their “graduates” so they can beat the odds and not fall into recidivism. Jeremy and Defy’s work not only brings love, dignity, and hope to those who are incarcerated, but it also helps those who come and volunteer to know and understand better the stories of those incarcerated, the prison and justice system, and how we can help and serve our communities better.

Jeremy helped launch Defy Nebraska in January 2017, and I heard about the process every step of the way. He left his previous job to pursue this calling, so talking to him about my pending resignation was important to me.

Talking over our Starbucks drinks, Jeremy had a lot of good and encouraging things to say. One thing he shared impacted my trajectory. He encouraged me to take some time off, if I was able to do so, before starting up with whatever my next job might be. This was freeing to me. I knew my time at CCC was at an end, but I wasn’t sure what was next. Hearing someone I trusted give advice that it was okay not to rush back into a job was helpful. I remember a sense of peace coming over me as I thought about it. It was okay not to know. It was okay to just be for awhile.

Jeremy was concerned not only for me, but for my family. Having just gone through a job transition to Defy, Jeremy knew how difficult it can be. Even if you love the new job, transitions are still hard. So much changes, so much you don’t even anticipate. Jeremy was looking out for my well-being, and my family’s well-being, holistically. The time off was a blessing to my family after giving twelve years to the job.

Since my resignation, Jeremy and I touch base once a week. Our boys are in the same Cub Scout Pack, so every Tuesday night we talk. I’m grateful for those check-ins with him. If not checking-in at scouts, we’re trying to connect at Starbucks or sushi. He’s encouraging. He’s real. He’s been a friend through thick and thin.

Jeremy has also been a great resource as two friends have been sentenced to prison this past year. He’s helped me understand how best I can be a friend to them while they are incarcerated. He’s someone I can trust as I process what happened with my friends.

He also reaches out continually so I know I’m welcome with Defy events. Going inside the Omaha Correctional Center to serve at a Defy Nebraska event, the Deep Dive, is a highlight from this past year. Seeing firsthand the difference the Defy Nebraska team is making is awesome. I would encourage you to find out more about Defy Nebraska and see if there is a way you can serve with them.

When I think back on the past year, from friendships to the idea of a Sabbath, Jeremy Bouman comes to mind. I’m grateful for him.

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