Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Break Up or Hitch Up! A Love Story...


By Kelsey Geske 


Have you ever seen the movie Pocahontas? I am a first-grade teacher and have worked with many children under the age of 7, so please excuse my Disney movie analogy. Do you remember the scene where Pocahontas is sitting in the willow tree watching the spinning arrow to see where “the great spirit” would lead her next? I feel like there have been many “spinning arrows” in my life. Let me explain:

My parents raised me to be a devout Christian but I chose to rebel and this choice took me down a difficult path. In college I drank underage, I snuck out, I ditched class, and I dated the “bad boys.”

When I graduated from college I moved back to Denver and in with my sister and her husband. I continued smoking, drinking, and doing drugs every night of the week. I was hooking up with random guys and I didn’t care about the consequences of my actions.

After eight months, I ended up pregnant with the drug dealer next door. My sister then kicked me out of her house because her husband found pregnant women attractive and was regularly hitting on me. So, I found myself, pregnant and alone living in a ghetto because that was the only place I could afford. I had hit my “rock bottom” and determined to change things around.

I had my son, Rowan, in May of 2012. I had a lot of help from my parents, friends, numerous government programs, and a neighbor. I also found a low-income job as a preschool teacher. After Rowan was about a year old, I felt very isolated from the “adult world”. I had gained a lot of weight after having my son, I stayed home a lot, and I needed a healthy hobby. I used to play soccer, so I decided to start an indoor soccer team.

About six months after starting my team, I met a guy named Brent who was sitting on the sidelines of the field. Our team was a player short and I asked him to sub. He wore this funny black bracelet with a thin red line down the middle, and even though I thought this was a little weird, I never asked him about it. Brent asked me out on our first date in August of 2014. We were dating for about three weeks when he brought up Flatirons Community Church. He informed me that he chose to live a life following Jesus and that it was really important to him, hence the funny black and red bracelet. He told me that although he enjoyed dating me, things could not continue unless I was a believer in Jesus. 


I remember just hearing the name “Jesus” sent shivers up my spine. I had messed up so many times. 



However, I really liked Brent and I could tell he had a beautiful heart, so I told him I would go. I started attending Flatirons in October of 2014. The message series at that time was Church Gone Wild. I remember thinking how stimulating and thought-provoking the message was from Scott Nickell. I have and always will be a thinker, so the style really appealed to me. I loved how there weren’t any requirements, simply challenges. Questions to ask, such as,  “Is this what you want? Is this all there is?” I knew something better existed for me, and that was Jesus. Right after the Church Gone Wild series, the new series was called, Rewired.

I was excited about this church, so I invited my parents to experience Flatirons. They were amazed I was attending church again. They had seen the sticker on the back of every other car on the road and they wanted to see what all of the fuss was about. Rewired was the first service that I had invited my parents to attend. They were sitting next to me when Jim Burgen challenged those who were living in a “marriage-like" relationship to either “hitch up or break up.” He said they were going to host a marriage ceremony in a couple of weeks for those who wanted to get hitched. At the end of the sermon, Brent turned to me and said, “Well, it looks like we’re getting married in November.”

I knew it was the right thing to do. God had directed me here with what seemed like one of those “spinning arrow” moments. I didn’t even need to really explain it to my parents because they were there to hear it. Brent and I dated for six weeks, were engaged for two, and married on November 24th, 2014. Along with 95 other couples.



Ever since I started chasing after Jesus, I have seen my life drastically change. 


In the fall of 2014 after 15 failed job interviews, I was given my first teaching job. I am now finishing my third year of teaching at this school and have grown further professionally than I ever dreamed possible. Brent and I welcomed our newest addition to the family, Samuel, in June of 2016.

Once I asked Jesus to help me, he somehow turned everything I thought was broken in my life into something good and continues to use me to do his good work. I do not have it all figured out and I will never come to a point in my life when I have fully “arrived”, but this is what Jesus has taught me so far and I can’t wait to see what comes next.

❀ We would like to feature other women who attend Flatirons in our blog! If you, or a woman you know, has an inspirational story please email Jeannie Blackmer at jeanblackmer@gmail.com


I am a daughter of God, a loving wife, and a mother of two young boys. I have worked at Prospect Ridge Academy as a first-grade teacher for the past three years. I am thrilled to announce that I will be stepping into a new role at Flatirons Community Church as a first-grade teacher at Flatirons Academy, opening this fall! In my spare time, I play on three adult coed indoor and outdoor soccer teams with my husband, Brent. I also enjoy running obstacle courses such as Tough Mudder and Rugged Maniac. I am happiest spending time with my family camping, hiking, and appreciating all that God has made and entrusted to us in this beautiful world that we get to call home. 





Wednesday, April 19, 2017

No More Fake



By Emily Donehoo


I didn’t like Jesus when I was in college. Mostly because the people I knew who talked about liking Jesus in college were super weird. They were fake. And they were appalled at people like me. People who engaged in under-aged drinking and made out with guys they didn’t know. People who swore and went to wild parties. Girls who flirted, wore low-cut tops, and danced on tables a time or two. I was inadvertently giving them an education about what real people were, and they were giving me an education about fake Jesus, bad religion, and fear.  

Maybe the weirdest fake-Jesus-pusher was this middle-aged man who used to come to our campus to stand outside the main cafeteria with big signs. The signs would list the sins he assumed everyone within earshot was committing. He would shout random “warnings” to people he thought needed to be “educated”. He yelled at me once. Screamed that I was going to hell because “Tank tops are an adulterer’s tool of the devil worn by evil fornicators.”

This guy wore eighties-style iron-on T-shirts and mesh hats with the words “Don’t Sin” on them.

I saw a friend of mine wearing one of these rare gems, and I asked him about it.  Apparently, my friend ran up and stole a “Don’t Sin” hat off of the “Preacher’s” head while he was distracted by a girl he was calling a “harlot.” My friend got an earful of “wisdom” shouted at him while “Preacher” chased after him, but it’s hard to chase down a sinner while carrying a four-foot sign which specifically lists “stealing” as a sin. So my friend got away with his new hat. The lunch crowd roared and cheered. If YouTube had been a thing back then, he would’ve been a sensation. 

But based on what I’ve read about Actual Jesus, I think if Actual Jesus had been on my college campus in 1999 and witnessed the hat-stealing, I think it would’ve gone down like this:

Jesus: Hey man, wanna see some cool stuff?
Friend: Like what?
Jesus: We’ll give a blind guy back his sight. Tell a paralyzed guy to walk, and he will. Turn water into wine…
Friend: Sweet. That sounds cool.
Jesus: Skip class and follow Me.
Friend: I’m failing that class anyway.


Actual Jesus would've done his amazing story-telling thing where my friend would've had an, "Oh. Yeah. Stealing's not cool" realization at some point, but He usually only led with the truth about sin with Pharisees. Which is why I think Actual Jesus would’ve put “Preacher” in his place somehow because he always put the Pharisees in their place. That would’ve been fun to watch.

But basically, I didn’t like Jesus because the Christians I knew just wanted to bully me into believing. The Christians I knew didn’t want to be kind or patient. They didn’t want to be loving or accepting. They tried to save me and change me so they could sew one more Merit Badge on their non-existent Souls Saved Sash or something.

If I would have met Actual Christ in college, I imagine it would’ve gone something like this:

Me: Hi
Jesus: Hi
Me: You’re ripped.
Jesus: I Am
Me: Are you an athlete?
Jesus: I’m a carpenter.
Me: So you build things out of wood?  Like furniture?
Jesus: Yes.
Me: That’s hot.
Jesus: Okay.
Me: You going to the party on Saturday? Just gonna be some people drinking too much and making out.
Jesus: I love people like that.
Me: Cool. Can you teach me how to build stuff?
Jesus: Sure. Follow me.

I’m 37-years-old, and thankfully, my eventual non-fake husband introduced me to Actual Jesus.  I don’t fully understand who I am yet, and I don’t fully know who He is yet either. But, I do know that I’m no longer the girl I used to be. And that Jesus, the Real Jesus, is the same as He ever was. 


One who provides, protects, and heals. One who doesn’t even flinch at our shame, fears, regrets, and screwed-up pasts. 



A friend whose love never wavers, whose arms are ever open, welcoming the poor, the lonely, the sick, the weary…. the thieves, the whores, the murderers, the drunks… He is the one who rebuilds the broken and restores the dilapidated pieces of our lives and our souls.

There are many things that I don’t know, but I do know that Christians and non-Christians alike are a screwed up bunch of humanity, and when we make the decisions, we get it wrong much of the time. But that’s why He came. That’s why He died, because we always have been a bunch of screw-ups. On this earth, and in this life, I am sure that I will continue to screw up this person God made me, but the more time I spend with the Real Jesus, the more like Him I become. The more truly I know him, the more truly I also know myself because I can see myself as he sees me - loved, accepted, restored.

Emily Donehoo is the only female in a family of five. She is a former High School English Teacher and National Trainer for the College Board. These days, when she isn’t scrubbing toilets, administering timeouts, working at book fairs, attempting to tackle dinner, laundry, homework help, dishes, and a preschooler’s incessant questions, she writes authentically about the hard stuff that really matters, hoping to uncover the truth that God has for us whether it makes us cry from laughter, pain or both at the same time. Read more of her writing here

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

How is God Protecting Us If We are Suffering?



I first read Psalm 91:1 on a plaque made of seeds that hung on my living room wall when I was a kid.

“The one who lives under the protection of the Most High dwells in the shadow of the Almighty.”


I love the idea of God as our dwelling place. God is where we live. He’s our house, our apartment, our home.

I also like the image of dwelling in the shadow of the Almighty. God is our protector. He’s the best protector available since he is literally the “Most High.” And yet, even as high as God is, as holy and unreachable, we can be as close to him as dwelling in his shadow. This is one of my favorite metaphors for God. It explains his holiness and his closeness at the same time. Those are the two ideas that come to mind when I feel unprotected. I wonder where God is when I am facing trials and troubles. I think that maybe he is too holy to be anywhere near my pain. In those times I certainly don’t feel he’s close enough for his shadow to fall over me.

A few years ago my dad went in for a fairly minor surgery and ended up having a heart attack in the hospital recovery room. While that’s probably the best place you could have cardiac arrest, he didn’t recover from it. He was in his 70s and his kidneys failed. He went on dialysis, but it wore him down. One week he fell and injured his spine and it never healed. He went into a rehabilitation center and just got worse. He contracted an infection that resisted antibiotics and he got mean. He yelled at the nurses and threw things. He screamed at me and swore. I was driving back and forth to the hospitals and medical facilities every day. I blasted the radio and sang along with whatever overplayed pop song that came on. I chain-ate chocolate bars. And I cried—a lot.

God seemed nowhere near me, not high, not casting a shadow over me, just nothing. It was a dark, dark place. I was in pain—so was my dad. He felt abandoned in a medical facility. I felt abandoned by God. That abandonment was the worst part of the trial.

Maybe that’s why trials are a test of our faith.

When things go to crap we test the idea that God protects us. Does he? 


Was God protecting my dad when he got so sick? Was he protecting me when I was hurting? He did not heal my dad. He did not comfort me. Instead, my dad died.

I was there when he passed away—in the room with him as his breath began to rattle and then when it stopped. I was glad for that moment. I was glad he did not die alone. And I was glad his suffering was over.

A friend asked me a long time after this how I had dealt with it and if I had felt God near to me in the suffering. I had had awhile to think about it. I thought about the Psalm 91 verse a lot. 


I decided that the reason I hadn’t sensed God near me was because I was no longer in his shadow, walking behind him. He had pulled me closer. He had gathered me like a little chick under his wings. 


It was dark in there. I couldn’t tell where I was from my vantage point. But he had covered me with his feathers.

I like this idea of God as protector, too. That’s a better picture of how God takes care of us sometimes when we can’t even stand, much less walk behind him in his shadow. Those are the times we take refuge under his wings.



Rebecca Barnes is the curriculum director for Summit Kids Ministry at Flatirons. She 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 who she likes to cook for. She lives in Old Town Lafayette because it’s a little eclectic, like her.




Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Taming the Tongue (and Saying I'm Sorry)


This week our family practiced saying sorry to each other, a lot. Always so much fun. We had some words, attitudes, and tones flying around that stung and caused misunderstandings. Between my husband and me, between our children and us. Between siblings. Chalk it up to hormones (not just teenage ones) and stress and a lot of time together over spring break.

Words can be full of life and beauty and yet can cause deep pain. We can talk so sweetly to a little child in a stroller passing by and then bark at our own children two minutes later. We want to be good, but our words and tone often betray what is in our heart…impatience, annoyance, selfishness, control, pride. God knows this and speaks in his word of how our tongue often plays two roles:

"With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?  My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water." - James 3: 9-12

Why is this?

Because we are human and life often wears down our ability to respond kindly and with self-control in every situation. 


So how do we tame this rogue tongue of ours? Especially when we use it in negative ways towards those we love the most?

BE AWARE 

Awareness.  We often have feelings and stress and fatigue and hurt from the outside world that we carry around like an overstuffed trash bag. When someone close to us pushes on us or responds in a way that prickles our nerves we tend to dump the trash, all over them. We are trying to learn as a family the ability to be in tune to how we are feeling. When we are in touch with our stress or fatigue or sadness, it can help us and others to understand where our reactions are coming from. Often our words tumble out before we even realize we are stressed or tired, but if we can take a minute to reflect on where the intense emotion came from, then we can communicate with others and seek reconciliation.

This one example of how it played out in our family this week:

One of our children overreacted in anger towards me over a situation with our puppy. Our child’s emotion caught us off guard and the situation escalated. When we were able to discuss and resolve it later, we found out our child had had a very difficult day of rejection from friends. Upon hearing this we immediately moved from frustration to compassion towards her.

We coached our child on learning to be aware of when they are feeling sad or hurt and how that might come out sideways towards others. And if it does, to apologize and communicate the deeper issue going on at that time. This child took the coaching to heart and two other times last week apologized for a negative tone with an explanation of, “I’m sorry I spoke that way, I was really tired,” or, “I was stressed because I was running late.”  If a teenager can learn awareness, I can too.

BE PREPARED

In an ideal world, we become so self-aware that we are continually in tune with our feelings and have the ability to control every reaction and word no matter what comes our way….I’m chuckling as I write that. Pretty impossible. But not completely. 

have found something that helps me again and again to control my tongue (most of the time) no matter how stressed or tired or weary I am feeling: I prepare my heart and mind before the day starts with spending time with God.I have learned that spending time with God in the morning and asking him for wisdom and self- control with my tongue that day can help so much. When I invite God into my day, he takes the wheel.  He gives me strength and peace and perspective in each situation. I especially need to ask for help when I know my tongue might get me into trouble because of life’s stresses. Times for me that need extra preparation:
  • When I have a busy day 
  • When there has already been conflict and my heart feels wounded
  • I have a presentation or am leading something that day (needing to be “on”)
  • When I am weary of life and going through a tough season
All of these situations can cause me to be sharp with others. But, spending crucial time with God in the morning helps prepares me for the day. I can ask Him for peace, self-control in my responses, and a gentle tone in my words no matter what comes my way that day. It is inevitable that we will mess up, and when we do a heartfelt sorry is often an instant and healing salve on the wounds we have created.

We must use sorry without hesitation and with reckless abandon in our relationships.

How can you become more aware of what is behind the angry feelings or words?  
How do you prepare your heart and mind for your day? (we'd love to hear from you!)



Amy is a blogger and designer who lives in Broomfield, Colorado with her husband and three teenage children. Along with a love for traveling and date nights (even better when combined!), Amy enjoys writing about real life as a woman pursuing God in the midst of marriage, motherhood and work. You can read more from Amy about faith and design on her blog.