Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Getting Back Into Friendships




By Rebecca Barnes

I don’t like many people.  

It’s really bringing down my social life. 

I think I’ve met too many people that are horrible and now I’m afraid of new people. I’m afraid of people I already know, too. I worry they don’t understand that I cannot possibly listen to their problems—big or small. I’m a crust of a person, who is still recovering from raising a traumatized child (and other heavy stuff). So I’m equally terrified people will submerge me in their heaviness or enrage me with their petty thoughts. 

So you can see how this is an issue—particularly now that the pressure is on for me to join a small group to further my way following Jesus. Flatirons wants all of us to get involved in a group.

But I am wary of awkward conversations. I’m terrified of angry people. I’m on the defensive against outspoken opinions. And I’m leery of weirdos. 

And there are other things: I resent people who don’t show up, because I work so hard to show up. I resent people who show up fake, or out of control (drunk, emotional, loud, grumpy, overly optimistic) because I work so hard to hold it together. I resent people who suck the life out of me with their drama. These people don’t seem to realize how bad life can actually be and what a waste of time it is to spend it complaining. 

All of this is madness. I realize that. I know that even if I can’t live with people, I also can’t live without them. And connecting with people brings joy. And while people can bring pain, so can loneliness. So, riding along with all this madness is the idea of good friends. These are the people who make me feel like I belong on this planet. 

But I’ve been doing without good friends for a long, dry season. It’s been a hard season too—which is sometimes the way things work. Tragedy strikes and most people back away, or I push them away with the fear that they won’t understand what’s going on with me. I try to back away from my own tragedy as well. I do that by turning inward.

It’s like the time I was shoved inside a locker in eighth grade. I needed someone to let me out. But at the same time it was embarrassing to be in there. And it was difficult to shout for help while I was sobbing.

In the thick of things around our house with our difficult kiddo it was hard to plan to be with people. It was challenging to schedule book club in between therapy sessions, court dates, and hospital visits. And even when I managed to show up to social gatherings, it was impossible to relate to women complaining about botched coffee orders.

So loneliness heaped on top of tragedy and trauma.

But now, things have shifted. Our trauma is moving behind us and in a post-apocalypse moment, I’m shuffling away from the smoldering wreckage and beginning to lift my dirty head and wonder if maybe I could make friends again. 

I’ve met tolerable humans before. So I know that most of my ideas about how awful people are, are really my problems. I have to get over that. I have to turn outward. I have to start shouting, now that my tears have stopped rolling. I have to find somebody who will let me out of this locker. I need to let go of the shame that surrounds the tragedies I’ve dealt with, and forgive others and myself in order to move on. Sometimes I need to be alone to heal, but maybe it’s time to open myself up to others knowing I can’t control their reactions or judgments, or even my own sometimes. Then I have to find some people I can hang with and get to know. I have to find people who seem safe enough to tell my stories to. I have to find people whose stories I can hear.


⁕⁕⁕⁕⁕

You've heard us say, "we learn in rows and grow in circles." Help us kick-off this brand new season here at Lafayette and all our campuses. If you missed the group sign up event in the backyard of the District in Lafayette last Sunday, that's okay because August 18/19 and August 25/26, we will have a opportunities to meet leaders and sign up in the Lobby with the groups that are not quite full after each service. Or click here!


Rebecca Barnes is married to an amazing man, who encourages her faith and listens to her typing a lot. She has three daughters and a son-in-law. She loves to cook for anyone who likes good food, and she feels competitive about weeding her flower garden. She lives in Old Town Lafayette because it’s a little eclectic, like her.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

The Cost of Following Jesus



By Maggie Bartlett

I’ll probably lose a toenail by the end of summer.

Occasionally, I work up the courage to look closely at my toe. It's not looking good. My husband and I went backpacking and summited a fourteener near Telluride over the Fourth of July. It was an intense three-day trip and, each day, I waffled between exhaustion and joy—except for the descent from the peak. That I was clear on, I hated it. My mind was tired from navigating the technicality of the peak; my hip was aggravated from the uneven terrain, and my knees! My poor knees! But all those aches paled in comparison to the throbbing in my toe. I winced with every step as I scrambled down rocks and scree, certain that toe would be a mess.

Sure enough, when we got back to camp, my toe looked like something out of an old school cartoon. Remember when a character would accidentally hammer his thumb? Then his thumb would swell up to three times its normal size, turn a deep shade of red and develop a heartbeat? I swear to you, that is exactly what my toe looked like—like I’d been hammering it for eight hours. I knew, with each slam of my toes against my boot, that my toenail wouldn’t make it.

A few days after our incredible trip, I read the story of the rich young man. I've read it before, but this time it's meaning for me was so real it was like another slam of a hammer on my sore toe.

As Jesus was starting out on his way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“You know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother.’”

“Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.”

Jesus looked at him and loved him. "There is still one thing you haven’t done,'" he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions." (Mark 10:17-22, 28-31 NLV)

We can learn a lot from this story, but in this season, it reminds me that following Jesus comes at a price.

For the young man, it was his wealth. For me, it means sacrficing my selfish desires and giving my time away.

Jesus didn’t assure him that he would provide any immediate satisfaction or tangible comfort. Jesus definitely didn’t say it would bring him success or prominence either. Some guy (the Messiah) was asking him to give up everything he worked for and everything he knew to pursue a vague and unfamiliar calling. Can you really blame the guy for walking away? Jesus certainly wasn’t marketing the position very well. 

The rich man longed for a more meaningful life, but he couldn’t have that and all his possessions. Eternal life would cost him, and he wasn’t convinced it would be worth the price. But following Jesus is costly—that’s the point. The good news is, it’s worth the sacrifice.


Have you been the rich man who walked away from Jesus’ invitation? I certainly have. I avoided committing to church and plugging into a small group the past few years. After my dad passed away unexpectedly, I didn't have the emotional capacity to participate in more than just, well, waking up each day. The thought alone of going to church and especially joining a small group, was daunting to me. 

Now, in this stage of grief, I feel more whole and a little less broken. And after reading that passage, I felt convicted about the excuses I made to duck out of building community through church. Of course, committing would cost me things I enjoy, like my time, flexibility and freedom on a Sunday. but if the Lord was nudging me to finally commit to church and dive deeper into relationship with him and others, then obedience would gain me so much more.

What wild thing is he asking of you? It’s easy to be disobedient because sometimes he asks us to do crazy stuff. Like, be kind to other people. (Jesus, have you met "other people"? They are nuts.) He may be asking you to uproot your whole family, move to a different continent and trust him…because it’s all for his glory. Or maybe it’s smaller than that. Maybe he’s nudging you to join a small group or invite the annoying neighbors over for dinner. Maybe he wants more quiet time with you and needs you to say no, instead of yes.

I don’t know what it is for you or how great the cost will be. But I do know that if the King of Kings is asking you to do it, shouldn’t you? I don’t want to be the rich guy who walks away from Jesus’ beauty and goodness, all my possessions and comfort in tow. No, I want to be in the boat with Jesus, discovering his prowess and strength as he calms every storm.


⁕⁕⁕⁕⁕

You've heard us say, "we learn in rows and grow in circles." Help us kick-off this brand new season here at Lafayette and all our campuses. In the backyard of the District in Lafayette, we are going to be hosting all available groups so that you can find the one that's right for uniquely you! Jam to the DJ, grab some drinks and enjoy the food trucks while you meet the leaders! If you find a group that's right for you, sign up right then and there! 4-8pm Sunday, August 12th.

Can't make it to this event? August 18/19 and August 25/26, we will have a similar set up in the Lobby with the groups that are not quite full after each service. For ALL other campuses…Groups Kickoff will take place after the 9am and 11am service this weekend.




Maggie Bartlett is a Colorado native, living in Denver with her husband. 
She works at a marketing agency and loves to write, climb mountains and travel in her free time.






Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Shalom to You Too



My husband is on a work trip this week, so I’m flying solo with my girls. It seems like every time he leaves, someone gets deathly ill. And by deathly ill, I mean someone usually ends up throwing up all over me. And that feels like death to me.

This time, I caved, and now both of my girls have been sleeping in the bed with me because I just can’t walk up the stairs one more time to check on them in the middle of the night. This morning, I woke up before them. I laid in bed and listened to their soft breathing and watched their sweet, relaxed faces.

This season of little kids is filled with lots of things. Lots of noises and toys and activities. Lots of refereeing and teaching and talking. 

Not many noticeably peaceful moments exist in my normal day-to-day. Sometimes I get to bedtime and I feel like if anyone else needs anything from me, I will throw a tantrum.


This morning, as I watched my kids sleep, I got to take a deep breath. I stayed in bed and read a book. I watched them slowly blink their eyes open. Whisper “hi” to each other. Snuggle. We eased into the day in a way that doesn’t normally happen. It was quiet, cozy and oh-so-sweet.

Eventually, we got out of bed and hit the ground running. But it made me think, How often do I miss these sweet opportunities? How often am I in such a hurry that these peaceful moments get lost in the chaos I create? The chaos I choose?

Moments of peace are tucked into our days. These moments don’t demand our attention. They aren’t flashy or invasive or obvious. And in order to find them, they require our full presence.

I had a friend in college who would greet people with, “Shalom.” He would say bye with, “Shalom.” He would pat you on the head if you were stressing out and say, “Shalom.” He would toast a cafeteria dinner with, “Shalom.” I always thought it was so funny and weird, but I never really gave it much thought. I’d just say, “Shalom to you, too.”

Shalom means complete peace, a feeling of deep contentment, wholeness, and harmony. That rare feeling you get when everything seems right and good. Oh, how I long for these moments, for shalom, to be more of the norm in my little world and also in our great, big, hurting world.

The good news is our God is shalom. He is perfect peace. When Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you…” he says this as a promise. (John 14:27) It’s not just a lofty, good idea. It’s not some puzzle that we have to solve, some secret we have to uncover. As his children, we have full access to the perfect peace that is Jesus. This is part of our inheritance.

He goes on to say, “Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not be afraid.” Part of accessing this perfect peace is in our hands. It’s in the moments when we’re tempted to choose fear. It’s in the moments when we look at how our broken world operates. It’s in the moments when we are tempted to just keep doing and keep going and keep pushing through. Shalom is hidden in all of these moments when we, instead, choose to fix our eyes on Jesus.

As we walk closely with Jesus, contentment becomes less and less connected to our circumstances. We can brave the storms without fear, knowing that God is always for us. 



We can face the unknown with confidence because there is nowhere we can go that he won’t be. And we can face our sometimes brutally boring day-to-day knowing that Jesus wants to show up for us in the mundane.

These little moments of peace aren’t always mind-blowing, right? I mean, my few moments this morning watching my girls sleep did not negate the crazy-ness that immediately ensued. But I think this moment at least prepared me a little better for the rest of the moments today. It let me start the day with a sense of wholeness, operating out of a deep breath and a present heart.

And these peace-filled moments help us stay centered and focused on the One who is perfect peace. A great conversation with a friend. That first sip of coffee in the morning. A long, hot shower. Sitting down to eat a good meal. Sometimes it simply requires slowing down enough to acknowledge these moments, however brief they are. Sometimes it just requires our attention, our full presence, our showing up and patting ourselves on the back and saying, “Shalom to you, too.”

Emilie lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado with her husband and two daughters. She’s a freelance writer, health & wellness coordinator, and yoga instructor. She loves books, happy hours, and all things outdoors. You can connect with her at emjimenez.com.



Wednesday, July 18, 2018

God Sees You



By Laura Busse

“The LORD your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” – Zephaniah 3:17

On a rare night out together, my husband and I wandered into a restaurant for dinner. Within seconds of being seated our waitress, Jessica appeared. Smiling and joyful, she took our order and sped away. While we waited, I kept catching Jessica out of the corner of my eye. 

First, I noticed her bounding up two flights of stairs carrying a tray loaded with enough food for two families. Less than a minute later, she was scrubbing down the table in front of us, also making sure that the floor and window around it were sparkling clean. Next, she sped by with a tub full of dirty dishes, heading to the kitchen. Seconds later, she burst back out through the doors with her arms full of clean silverware for an entire section of the restaurant. 

My husband and I marveled at her incredible stamina and work ethic. We thought she must have been a manager, or even an owner, to work that hard with such attention to detail. I had to ask. So when our dinners arrived, I blurted out, “Wow Jessica! You sure are busting your butt here. Do you own this place?”

Jessica only laughed, “No I’ve worked here for nine years. The woman at the front door is the manager. I don’t think she recognizes half of what I do around here.”

How often do you feel the same way? You work your butt off taking care of kids and no one sees how hard it truly is? You clean the kitchen and empty the dishwasher AGAIN and no one thanks you. You complete the same mundane tasks at work but have never received even a single compliment. You volunteer faithfully but wonder if it even makes a difference. 

Who recognizes what you do to keep your boat afloat, the family fed, or your house functioning day after day?

I learned the hard way not to look to others for recognition, but instead to look to God for affirmation. 

God sees you folding the laundry, cleaning the toilet, working diligently, and loving faithfully. He takes great delight in you and rejoices over you (Zephaniah 3:17). He waits for you to invite Him into every single area of your life. 

You can practice the presence of God by:

Praying for the people whose clothes you are folding.
Listening to praise music while cleaning your house.
Read a Bible passage in the area you’re trying to grow right before leaving the house.
        (Or put it in the car so you see it every time you get in and out.)
Invite God to join you wherever you go or whatever challenge you face.

Before you know it, you’ll realize you’ve spent the entire day with God close by. His presence will grant you joy even in the mundane tasks and daily routines. 

Before leaving the restaurant, we left Jessica a nice tip with a thank you note. On our way out, I stopped at the manager’s station and praised Jessica’s hard work and hospitality. Even if the manager doesn’t recognize Jessica as a gift, God certainly does. 


Laura Busse lives in Boulder, CO with her husband and three non-stop teenagers. As the founder of The 3 O'Clock Wake Up Call, she envisions a world where everyone in every nation gives thanks to God, every day at 3 pm. If you want to start getting daily 3 O’Clock Wake Up Call messages, you can either download the free mobile app (be sure to say “yes” to getting push notifications), or get text messages by texting 3PM to 313131.


Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The Prayer Coin



One Thursday afternoon, I headed out to Australia for a ministry trip, flying first to LA and then waiting some five hours during a delay. To bide the time, I chatted it up with my husband, Evan, back in Denver. He was to have accompanied me but surgery on his ankle about a month prior made the long flight unwise for him. Reluctantly, I boarded the flight to Melbourne, landing some 16 hours later to find a few messages from Evan on my phone: Call me and I’ll give you an update on my leg.

I pulled my two-week sized rollaboard to the side of the arrivals hallway and dialed Evan. He answered, “I’ve had a little problem with my leg. I’m in ICU.”

What?!!!

He was FINE when I left Denver and then when I left LA! In the 20 or so hours I’d been gone, he’d spiked a raging 103 degree fever and I was a million miles away with ministry on my plate.

My heart hit the linoleum floor of the Melbourne airport and from my soul-crumpled being, I reached out to God. 


Help came to me from an unexpected source. From a verse in scripture I’d been considering as a possible paradigm-shifting provision on prayer. (That’s a lot of “p”s!)

In the intense hours in a garden the night before he went to die on a cross, Jesus prayed “Take this cup, yet not my will but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). Two specific prayers: First: Take this cup. Then: Not my will. Such a duality powerfully displayed in three of the gospel accounts, and mentioned in the fourth. Two sides of Jesus. Two sides of us. Two sides of prayer. The Prayer Coin.

When Jesus says, Take this cup, that’s the honest side of the prayer. He reveals his own desire, “This is what I want.”

Then Jesus flips the coin, praying, Not my will, the side of abandon. Abandon is saying to God, “But what do you want, God?”

Notice that in between the two sides of honest and abandon is the word “yet” which forms the edge of the coin – a pivot where we tip back and forth between each side, experiencing one side at a time: honest (what I want) – pivot – abandon (what do you want, God?).

Take this cup, yet not my will but yours be done.

The Prayer Coin.

Wow! This prayer is quoted more than any other prayer in the Bible. Yet …(there’s that pivot!), have I ever prayed it? For myself? For those I love? Have you?

Here – I’m holding out this Prayer Coin to you. Feel the weight of it as you turn it over and over in your palm. Honest. Abandon. Abandon. Honest.


Now, are you ready to try? This Prayer Coin that might just cash in a deeper faith for you?

First – be honest: What are you currently wanting, needing, desiring before God?
·      You look around at other women, happy in their Pintresty friendships and you wonder what’s wrong with you. Take this cup of feeling excluded God.
·      Maybe you’re concerned about your three-year-old. Is she using enough words? Take this cup of delayed speech God!
·      Your husband isn’t very attentive –and you’re wondering why you married him. Take this cup of a lukewarm marriage God!

And after you’ve poured out what’s really in your heart … try a pivot. Flip the prayer coin to the other side: abandon. What might you want for me Lord?

Abandon asks how far will you go to commit your wants, needs and desires to what God wants for you and your life?
·      Women around you may be just as lonely as you are. I’ll go first and risk rejection in order to pursue friendship. Not my will God.
·      Your daughter may need testing – expensive testing. I’m willing to sacrifice my coffee money. Not my will, God.
·      Your husband may come from a family where affection was scarce. I’ll reach out to him rather than insisting he change for me. Not my will God.

And then in each need, back again to honest. Then a pivot to abandon. Again and again, learning more about what you really want and what God wants as well.

Prayer is like a coin. One side is honest: the freedom to be ourselves in relationship with God. The other side is abandon: the calling to yield to his desires in our lives. We spend prayer best, like a coin, with the currency of both sides: honest and abandon. Pivoting from one to another.

As you do, you’ll journey deeper in your relationship with God, who uses both sides of prayer to draw us closer to him, just as he did in a garden long ago with his Son.

Oh, and my husband? He’s good. God gently nudged me to understand that he would use this health crisis in the lives of our adult children, raising them up to care for Evan in my absence. He used it in Evan’s life, assuring my husband of his care. And he used it in my life, empowering me to serve where I had to be since no flight could return me to Evan in mere hours.

The prayer coin has since become a practice I pray on a daily basis, with honest and abandon, leaning in to the intimacy Jesus died to provide.

Elisa Morgan was named by Christianity Today as one of the top fifty women influencing today’s church and culture. She has authored over twenty-five books. Her newest release is The Prayer Coin: Daring to Pray with Honest Abandon (www.theprayercoin.org). Elisa received a BS from the University of Texas and an MDiv from Denver Seminary and currently serves on its board. For twenty years, Elisa served as CEO of MOPS International and now is President Emerita. Today she speaks internationally and serves as a co-host of the syndicated radio program, Discover the Word, produced by Our Daily Bread Ministries. She also writes for that devotional and her blog, Really, which reaches thousands. With her husband of 39 years, Evan, she has two grown children and two grandchildren who live near her in Denver, Colorado. Wilson, her Rottie-wannabe, takes her on walks in the open space behind her home. Connect with Elisa and her blog at www.elisamorgan.com.