Thursday, January 19, 2017

When Feeling Down with Bad News Look for the Good

By Jean Blackmer

“I am confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” Psalm 27:13

It’s 2017 and it’s a crazy world.

Everywhere I look and anything I read is bad news. Racial tensions, political sparring, wars, starving refugees, natural disasters, broken relationships, a sudden death in the family, mall brawls and so much more. I start to feel discouraged and wonder Where is God in all of this?

If I let myself dwell on these negative events I spiral down into gloom. Then I carry this negativity into my thought life, into my home, and into my closest relationships. I start to focus on differences rather than common ground. I let my fears dominate my hopes. I find myself uttering words of criticism rather than admiration.

I even experience bad dreams revolving around scary things happening. The other night I woke up myself, and my husband, shouting my son’s name after a dream where he was on an airplane to travel for the holidays and the plane was crashing. I jolted awake and my heart was pounding. No way was I going to fall back to sleep. So, I went to my bible app on my phone and looked up one of my go-to verses when I’m overwhelmed with negativity in the world, Psalm 27:13:

“I am confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”

For me, this calms me down and I find a sense of peace in the chaos. I know we will experience an eternity of love and peace but this scripture reminds me that I can be confident that I WILL SEE the GOODNESS of the Lord in our world today.

Then I consciously shift my thoughts and open my eyes to see goodness amidst the bad. If I see a news story about a tragedy I look for those running to help. If I hear about refugees I remember what people are doing, including my own church, to save lives and make this world a better place.

Sometimes I have to dig deeper to find a good story to read, watch a heart-warming documentary, an inspirational TED Talk or a funny YouTube video to get me out of my depressive funk.

I also pay attention to the beauty around me: the tree outside my window with little icicles dangling from a branch; the precious smile on a baby’s face at the store; the delight in a simple walk with a friend.

Then, and this is the best remedy for the blues, I take the next step and DO something good. Prepare a special dinner for my family. Sit and have tea with my 87-year-old neighbor. Make and take sandwiches to the homeless hanging out at the creek in town. Help with a food bank or sign up to sponsor a child monthly in a third world country.

We can do so much good with each precious moment we have 

if we set our minds to do it. 

Realistically, 2017 will have its ups and downs. Hopefully, we’ll handle the ups and downs with looking for and doing good.Then I think we'll find joy in the midst of the turmoil because we will see the goodness of the Lord in the Land of the living.

Don’t stop looking!

What's something good you’ve seen recently? We love to hear from you!

Jean Blackmer is married to Zane and mother to three boys. She’s authored three books, including MomSense: A Common Sense Guide to Confident Mothering, contributed content to more than 20 books, and written articles for a variety of magazines. She loves her family, chocolate, scuba diving and being outside as often as possible. She's managing the blog for the Flatirons Women's Ministry and is looking for writers! 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Do You Need A Do-Over?

Do you remember when we were growing up and used to play four-square at recess?  I remember so many times when I’d do a double bounce and because we were all having so much fun someone would say, “Do over!”  Or when I served a ball that clearly landed outside the boundary and a kind friend would say, “Do over!”  I loved those moments.  The ones that kept me in the game even when I deserved to be kicked out.
As I reflect on the past year, I could certainly use a “do over” in different areas – parenting, marriage, even my blogging and design work. I'm constantly making mistakes, but somehow grace shows up in the mix. I think I feel the chance to begin again the most this time of year. Each new year I get to shake the dust off my boots (especially the cute ones I just got for Christmas) and receive another chance to do better.
The idea of new beginnings is not new. God set this into the framework of time and space through the seasons (Earth’s tilt), the new year (Earth’s travel around the sun), and the new day (Earth’s rotation). 

His word says that he has new mercies waiting for us each and every morning.

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23

Don’t you just love that?  Whatever it is that holds us back, that weighs us down, that we wish we had done differently….we get a second chance, and a third, and a fourth. 

Just like the trees that get the chance to grow taller and stronger with each passing spring, so do we.

So let’s take a deep breath as we begin another year. In what areas do you want to grow taller and stronger in 2017?
Health? Spirituality? Relationships? Finances? Marriage? Parenting? Work?
Ask yourself some questions:

1.  In what part of your life do you want a fresh start?
2. What went well last year that you want to continue?
3. What didn’t?
4. In what areas do you want a “do over”?
Invite God into this process.  What work is He doing in you right now?  What new adventures is He inviting you to take?
Maybe God is saying, “It’s okay, this is a journey. This will work itself out in time,” or maybe He has been gently convicting your heart for a while now nudging you to take some steps in a better direction.
This process of reflection is so important if we are to move ahead in growth and maturity.  Take some time today to write your thoughts down, or find some quiet time to just be still and think.
If you need some help, Michael Hyatt has put together a “Life Assessment” which is a short online questionnaire to help you identify areas of strength and weakness.  I took it and it confirmed what I suspected but made it much more real to see it “scored.”  I clearly see the areas where I need to set some new goals!  There is not a follow up to this survey–the webinar he attached it to is no longer running–I just used it for my own personal assessment. Check it out here.
I love second chances because it means I don’t have to stay stuck.  That my mistakes and flops and areas of partial growth do not have to be my only story.  I get to write a new chapter this coming year.  I get a do-over!

Amy Hayes lives in Broomfield, CO with her husband of 22 years and three teenage children.  She loves questionable TV shows like the Bachelorette and blogging and moving furniture around in her house.  You can see more of her thoughts on life, faith and interior design on her blog.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Trust God in the Beautiful Chaos of Life

On Monday, I was on the phone with my husband when he pulled up to the gym. He couldn’t believe how many people were there. “This place is crazy,” he said. Maybe all of the moms needed to get out of the house with their kids because some school districts are off today, I thought. It did not occur to us until later that night that it was the NEW YEAR. 2017! Which means another fresh batch of New Year’s resolutions.

I suddenly felt guilty that I was not at the gym that day too. I thought about my own health journey and my goals for this new year. Then I thought about my responsibilities as a mom of three teenagers and how I desire to be more intentional during my time with them. I thought about my husband and how we could spice things up this year. Then I thought about baseball and soccer carpools.  Then work entered my mind and although I am so excited about all that is to come in 2017 for Women’s ministry here at Flatirons, I began to feel anxious and overwhelmed.

Take a few minutes and think about all of the responsibilities you have on a daily basis. 

Maybe you’re a parent, and you have a job, maybe you are trying to accomplish something in your personal life, a fitness goal, maybe you’re in school, maybe you have a professional goal, or you feel God calling you to something different or to make a change.  All of these realities and goals require a certain amount of discipline and responsibility. When the New Year hits, many of us re-evaluate the priorities in life and please hear me, this is a GOOD and HEALTHY action to take! But, like me, does this make you feel anxious?

At times I feel the weight of all of the responsibility I carry on my shoulders. Can you relate? And I’m reminded my struggle to trust God is REAL every year, every day.

Sometimes my responsibilities feel so heavy and overwhelming that the fear of failure and rejection grips my heart. 

I’m wired to believe that accomplishment precedes acceptance and achievement precedes approval. My value is attached to how well I perform, how I am accepted, and how my achievements are met with approval.  

This belief, at times, can be exhausting. A sweet friend of mine, who knew I was struggling, sent me this quote by Jennie Allen that shook me to the core,

"If God wants a thing to succeed, you can’t mess it up. If He wants it to fail, you can’t save it. Rest and Be Faithful." - Jennie Allen

This quote rocked me to my core because it revealed the truth that I was not trusting God. I mean he is indeed the Creator of the Universe and I have a tendency to lose sight of that.

Psalm 46:10 says, "Be still and know that I am God."

How often do we intentionally stop, be still and contemplate that he is God? He’s got this! If we fall short or things go terribly wrong, He’s still got it!

God does not promise that if we follow him, we will never have pain or walk difficult roads or feel overwhelmed with fear. What he does promise is this:

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous, Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” - Joshua 1:9

And he promises,“...for those who love God, all things work together for GOOD for those who are called according to his purpose.” - Romans 8:28

So if he is God, the Creator of the Universe, is with us wherever we go, and works all things for good, then we can trust him and his plan and purpose for our lives.

We can lean on HIS strength when we feel the weight of our responsibilities or exhausted and overwhelmed. He’s got this. We just need to be praying that HIS voice is the loudest voice we hear in the midst of the beautiful chaos of life. Rest and be faithful with the responsibilities and the kingdom he has entrusted to us.

Lara is the Women’s Ministry Director at Flatirons Community Church. Lara and her husband Eric have been married for 17 years and they are parents to three teenagers. As you can imagine life is busy at the Veve household, but they embrace the beautiful chaos of life during this season.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

2017... Here We Come!

Happy New Year! 

Join us in 2017 for an upcoming, awesome year of friendship, serving those we love and impacting our communities both locally and globally!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Merry Christmas!

Dear Women of Flatirons Community Church,

We wish you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! We've had a wonderful year growing together and serving together. 

May your days be merry and bright and may you grow in grace and truth. 

(Watch this, it will make you smile. Maybe even laugh out loud. You're welcome.)

"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth."

 - John 1:14

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Don't Be Stressed Out About Christmas....Instead Have a "Mary" Christmas.

By Jean Blackmer

Martha squeezed her way through the crowd of people in her home who came to hear Jesus speak. She carried a large bowl filled with pomegranates, grapes, and figs. She set these on the wooden table and went back to get the bread she had made earlier in the day. Where is Mary? She thought, as she tore the bread into bite-size pieces and placed the chunks on a platter.

A crippled man dressed in rags, sitting on the dusty floor near the doorway to her kitchen, reached out and touched her hand as she passed. “May I have some water,” he asked. She pushed a strand of hair away from her face as she looked down at him. “Of course,” she answered realizing her own throat was parched. She hadn’t had time to eat or drink anything yet today. Again, she wondered, Where on earth is Mary? I can’t take care of all these people myself. She found a mug, poured some water into it, and handed it to the man.
The room was filled with people. Many of them had traveled long distances to hear Jesus speak. They were all hungry and thirsty. She wanted her home to be a refuge, a place to relax and to soak up the words Jesus spoke. Powerful words that changed people's lives. She could hear his familiar voice resonating throughout her home, but she didn’t have time to listen to his message. It was her duty to take care of all these people. She glanced around the room trying to find Mary. She needed her help, desperately. “Where is she?”
Martha stood on her tiptoes and looked over the heads of the crowd to where Jesus sat on a wooden chair next to the fireplace, which she noticed needed more wood. Then she spotted Mary. She was sitting on the floor at Jesus' feet.

Martha pushed her way through the people towards Jesus. He saw her coming and paused for a moment, knowing she wanted to talk to him. 

“Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? 

Tell her to help me,” Martha demanded.

Jesus looked into Martha’s eyes, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken from her.” Jesus’ words pierced her heart.

She felt the tears well up in her eyes. Jesus, who had the power to heal, and do all sorts of miracles, had been right in her midst, and she had spent the time busy and anxious, missing the blessings he offered. She looked at Mary who seemed so peaceful. She had a glow about her, a joy Martha didn’t have. Jesus continued speaking to the crowd as Martha placed a few pieces of wood on the fire. She stopped and really listened. “I have come that you may have peace…”

As Christmas approaches, many women get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season. Like Martha, women become anxious, overwhelmed and busy. No wonder a recent online survey discovered the words that first come to a woman’s mind during the holiday season are “stress,” and “anxiety”. In this same survey, many women confessed they struggled more during the holidays with depression, and many turned to overeating and alcohol to decrease their anxiety. 

We’re still struggling today with the same issues Martha did. We get distracted being busy, we fret over what gifts to give, we focus on decorating our homes, and fixing impressive foods. Our motives of serving others, creating an inviting environment and meaningful traditions are good, but if the result is stress and anxiety, then perhaps we're missing the point. Celebrating the birth of Jesus should be a time of peace.

He longs for us to rest in Him, 

not be busy because of Him. 

Let’s celebrate the birth of Jesus with a new heart. This year let's not have a have a Martha Christmas... 

This year have a Very “Mary” Christmas!

Jean Blackmer is married to Zane and mother to three boys. She’s authored three books, including MomSense: A Common Sense Guide to Confident Mothering, contributed content to more than 20 books, and written articles for a variety of magazines. She loves her family, chocolate, scuba diving and being outside as often as possible. She's managing the blog for the Flatirons Women's Ministry and is looking for writers!