Thursday, March 23, 2017

At War with Mittens

By Emily Donehoo

In the current series at Flatirons Church, Jim Burgen defined war as:

 “A struggle to achieve a goal.”  

If what he’s saying is accurate, then parenting is a long and difficult war. If you don’t agree, come over to my house around 8 pm and watch while my freshly bathed and lotioned 4-year-old streaks through the house screaming, “FREEDOM!!!” while the rest of us chase him up and down the stairs trying to put pajamas on our slimy, wriggling freedom fighter. 

Better yet, come watch while I attempt to get all three kids out the door on time in the winter. Why winter? Because the battle includes mittens, and mittens will be the death of me. No one ever seems to know where BOTH of their mittens are. One mitten is always appropriately placed in the mitten bin, while the other is SOMEWHERE out in the abyss. The mitten situation generally unfolds like this:

Child 1: (whining and bursting into tears) I can’t find my other mitten.

Mom: Did you look in the bin?

Child 1: (with “I’m not an idiot” tone)Yeah.

Child 2: I’m hungry.

Mom: Do you have your socks, boots, hat, mittens, and coat on?

Child 2: Yep!

Mom: Go get a snack and get in the car.

Mom: (frantically pulling everything out of the bin while Child 1 literally picks his nose) 

Mom: (sniffs child 3) Did you poop in your pants?

Child 3: (turns, runs upstairs, and hides under the covers)

Clock: Tick, tick, tick, 

Child 1: (Flops on ground whining and crying) IT ISN’T IN THERE!!!

Mom: Look in your backpack, then look in your coat pocket. Then look under your bed. (Thinks: Is child 2 choking on his snack in the car? Is someone going to come open the garage door and steal my child out of the car and sell him into sex slavery? Emily, don’t ever tell your child to go get in the car without you!    

Child 2: (Walks in from the garage) I have to go poop!

Child 1:  You took my boots!  Those are my boots!  Give them back!

Child 2: They are not!  These are mine! 


Child 2: Mommy, where are my boots?

Mom: (yelling from upstairs) I DON’T KNOW!  YOU ARE 9 YEARS OLD, YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO KEEP TRACK OF YOUR OWN BOOTS!!! (pulls back comforter revealing a poo-covered disaster zone)

When the poo is cleaned up, the mittens and boots are found, the swear-words have been muttered under my breath, and the children have been screamed at so much that my voice is hoarse, I stand outside the car door battle-scarred, and dripping sweat wondering, what am I even fighting for? 

In my war effort, what is the goal I am trying to achieve?

The truth hit me like a grenade. 

I thought I was fighting for my kids' best interest. I thought I was doing my best. Turns out, the battle I'm fighting is about proving to the world that I am good enough. Because most times, when I fight against my children I'm really fighting my own failures, my own disappointments, and my own fears. I fight against them when we aren’t on time because the voice in my head says I should be better at this by now. I am not good enough.  

But that battle was fought and won over 2000 years ago. What Jesus did for me already proved that the messy-haired mom who screams at her kids, is covered in goo and shows up 15 minutes late is enough to literally die for. And those arguing kids who can't find their mittens and always seem to have to poop are enough to die for too. Maybe if I remind myself about that, I'll be able to remember who and what I'm fighting for.

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, March 15, 2017

Long Days, Short Years

By Jenna Bullard

I’m a mom, just like many of you. I wake up each morning to make breakfasts, prepare lunches, look for ALL THE LOST THINGS, make sure everyone’s dressed, mostly-clean, and on time to school. I chauffeur kids to their various activities throughout the day, schedule appointments, and set up play dates. In my spare time, I fold mountains of clothes (that never seem to get put away), wash dishes for collectively three solid hours, and tackle homework, and bath times, and reading, and bedtime. Every. Single. Day. Sound familiar?

Somehow, during this same busy day, it’s also necessary to squeeze in the incredibly important tasks of teaching, instructing, and disciplining the tiny people my husband and I will someday loose on this Earth. (Hopefully, we will get the aforementioned mooning situation taken care of before that time comes…). On top of that, time must be intentionally carved out to talk with them, and play with them, and meet their individual needs, and so on. 

This job is no joke, and there is nothing I would rather be pouring my heart and life into every day. 

And sometimes, at least twice a week, I feel that I even do most of it well.

However, on many days I mess it all up, leave out important parts, selfishly refuse to put anyone and everyone before myself, and honestly do a bang-up, lousy job all around. These are usually the days when the tremendous expectations of my day-to-day life with two (almost three) kids, a husband, a cat, and a PUPPY (WHOSE IDEA WAS THIS?) feel like it’s just too much, and I feel overwhelmed. Cue the water works, the snappy tones, and the general unpleasantness. Also, the apologies, because Mommy is still learning, too.

It’s on these days I have to remind myself that in this season of our lives, our days are long but our years are breathtakingly short. Our son, Jaxon, is nearly eight years old, and I cannot for the life of me recall how that happened. He’s only in second grade, but I feel I will blink and he’ll be leaving for college. My chest tightens when I think he is already half way through elementary school. He is bright, and thoughtful, and does things in his own unique ways:

Our daughter, Jovie, is nearly 4, and so often I catch myself trying to lock little pieces of her away in my memory: her sweet smile, her laugh, her endearing way of requesting “yucky chaums” for breakfast. She changes every day, and I am terrified I will forget these tiny things that make her special. She is determined, and caring, and also deeply involved in many of our more challenging days:

Though I love these babies fiercely, sometimes our days together are hard, and it feels like bedtime will never come. And other days, I feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to soak up all the things I adore about each one. In our whopping eight years of parenting, there have been countless times of frustration, exhaustion, stress, failure, and discouragement, and there have been times when it was hard to not wish away the phases, ages, and years that are difficult to trudge through. (Seriously, potty training—I think every parent would like a fast-forward button for that *blissful* time.) However, it’s in these moments when God often speaks so clearly and gently to my heart, reminding me that once these precious babies are grown up. We will never get these moments back.

Whether good or bad, we will never get to live this day again.

With this in mind, I find that it’s much easier for me to deal with the tantrums, the arguments, the neediness, the spills, the tediousness, and the challenges of any given day. At the same time, it helps me to better appreciate the good days, the happy moments, and to be more present, more attentive, and more thankful for our times together. Lately, I have made it my goal to find the good in my day-to-day, and the reasons to laugh on the days when everything seems to be falling apart. It’s not all that difficult, and I think it may be making all the difference. 

It’s still a chaotic mess over here, but it’s my mess and I love the role I get to play in it. 

A lot of it comes down to our perspectives, Mamas. Be encouraged-- the days are long, but looking back, the years are so, so short. Make the most of each one. We’ve got this.

Hi, I’m Jenna. I’m a wife, mother of (almost) three, and lover of books, crafts, birthdays, proper grammar, and really delicious doughnuts. I’m passionate about my people, my Jesus, and a regularly planned girls’ night.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Stop, Look and Listen! A Moment Remembered During the FCC IF: Gathering

In a large crowd of people, do you ever stop, look, and listen to the sights and sounds around you? Like during a concert, a church service, a ball game, at the airport, at the park, in a meeting, or on the chairlift at the slopes? This is a practice that I intentionally started pursuing. My world, like most of ours, moves at a fast pace and is so noisy! I found myself struggling to slow down and be present in the moment. So, I decided to apply the “Stop, Look and Listen” practice that I learned as a little girl before crossing the street, to my everyday life as an adult. Sometimes this practice helps me to gain perspective or appreciation, provide focus and attention, or bring awareness to my brokenness because I find myself full of judgments and criticism. Nevertheless, it has forced me to slow down and be present in moments of my daily life.

A couple weeks ago I “Stopped, Looked and Listened” and experienced a little piece of heaven on earth. 

I had the honor of participating in the IF:Gathering conference at FCC West Campus. It was a weekend of amazing worship, solid biblical teaching, connection, and community. Our hearts and minds were challenged. We laughed, we cried, and God moved. During the worship of the last session, I took a moment to stop singing, look around and listen. I heard 400 women lifting their voices to Jesus, worshipping, crying out, and proclaiming the truth. 

In that moment, I got goosebumps because an overwhelming sense of joy and gratitude filled my soul. You see, in that moment, we had all things in common. I was reminded of the verse of the weekend: 

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. They were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day they attended the temple together and broke bread in their homes, receiving their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2:42-47

As I stopped, looked and listened, I felt the vision that the leadership for the IF:Gathering had established, had been accomplished in our community. The entire weekend the teaching we watched looked at the early church as a simple and pure model to follow. In the midst of this noisy and busy world, doesn’t a simple and pure model seem to be just what we need right now? 

What if we sought to be disciples and experience the power of God as He does big things through our simple acts of faith? What if we actually lived unified, surrendered to God, not just in our minds, but in our daily lives?  

Over the course of the weekend, we practiced Acts 2:42-47. We devoted ourselves to biblical teaching and connected through transparent and vulnerable discussion. We broke bread together and prayed. We used our finances to bless other organizations who are making a local and global impact. We praised God and we expressed our thankfulness. We spent time thinking about the people who introduced Jesus to us and we were challenged to go and be a disciple, to bring Jesus to others.

Jennie Allen, the founder of the IF:Gathering, was asked this question? “What do you want people to say about you after you die?”

And her response to that question has stuck with me. She said, “I want people to say that Jennie loved Jesus so much that it made me want to love him more too.”

So let's ask ourselves, are we following the simple and pure model of the early church? Do we rely on the Bible as the authority for our lives? Do we live in community with others? 

Do we love Jesus so much that others want to love him more too?

Try today to Stop, Look and Listen and see how God shows up in your day. In other words.  “Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

  • If you were able to attend the Flatirons IF: Gathering we'd love to hear how this time impacted you! (Make a comment below or send an email to Thanks!)

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.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Friends are Better than Cheetos

By Emilee Donehoo

“How are you today?” chirped the cashier at the grocery store.

Panic settled into my stomach. My husband has been gone for far too long, and I had been with the kids around the clock because Presidents’ Day is for some reason “Presidents’ Six Day Weekend,” my grandma just died, I’m hormonal, and interacting with adult humans hasn’t happened in a while. Inside my head, a conversation erupted. 

She’s asking how you are, Em. How are you?

Yes, she’s asking, but she doesn’t want the real answer because the real answer is that I’m frustrated and lonely and exhausted from walking through the grocery store with three kids who were hitting each other and tripping over each other and whipping their coats at each other and playing “hot lava” with the different colored tiles on the floor and not paying attention to all of the other people who were just trying to get by so they could get their groceries and get on with their lives while I tried to buy food without gluten, dairy, coconut, peanuts, eggs, tree nuts, and chickpeas. I can’t just say, “Oh. I’m fine.” because I’m not fine, and I’m not a liar but I’m not about to tell all of my problems to the grocery store clerk because then I’ll be the crazy lady crying in the grocery store and gosh, it seems like I cry a lot when the grocery store check-out lady asks me how I am… 

It has been too long since anyone said words. She is staring at you. Say SOMETHING!

“Oh, I am how you are while grocery shopping with three kids, you know...” I finally answer.

She clearly did not know. She smiled in response and stopped asking me questions. 

This isn’t the first time I have had or almost 

had an emotional breakdown in the grocery store. 

One time when Danny was a newborn and had just gotten shots, a lady stopped to say how beautiful he was. I cried in that conversation. Then the time the kids and I all had a tummy bug and I took three sick kids around in a cart to buy ginger ale, saltines, and chicken soup. An older lady told me to “Enjoy every minute.” I smiled and walked away before angry tears and angry words spilled out of me.

Oh, and the time I was pregnant and some sensitive soul said, “Wow!  You’re huge!  How much longer do you have?  You’re about to pop.” And that other time when the super nice check-out lady said, “Kids are hard. You’re doing such a great job with them.”

As I collected my children from the penny horsey ride, I asked myself, Why are you always having weird emotional run-ins at the grocery store?

The answer came, Uh, Em? When you’re a mom, sometimes the check-out lady at the grocery store is the only person who ever asks you how you are.

Oh. That’s sad.

Yes, it is, Em.

We should do something about that!

Yes, we should. 

So I decided to do something. 

I went home and ate a bunch of Cheetos and ice cream while I binge-watched This Is Us and cried. 

It was not a great decision.  

And it didn’t do anything to fix my loneliness. So I texted my friend. “Do not binge-watch This Is Us after your grandma dies and you’re hormonal and your husband has been on work trips for most of the month.” 

Condolence texting ensued. Friend asked how I was. I asked how she was. 

Turns out, she had been needing a friend too. Go figure.

We exchanged prayers and thoughtful words. Actual plans for coffee… like with a date, a place, and a time were made. We didn't have any pretending or competitiveness or anything icky. Why didn't I call a friend sooner? 

I have so many awesome friends, but I forget to text them or I assume they were too busy or bogged down with their tiny people who are covering them in bodily fluids to want to hang out with me and my tiny humans. And I’m guessing that they wrongly think the same. Because I have friends who show up. I have friends who, when I say, “I have this crazy dream that I want to do this thing…”

They say, “Cool!  I’ll do it with you!” I forget how amazing my friends are sometimes. Maybe you do too? Maybe today is a great day to remember. Maybe today is a great day to text a friend and make actual plans with a date and a time and a place to reconnect and be actual humans. 

Maybe today is a great day to ask God to help us not do this crazy thing all alone. 

Because really… God and friends are way better company than Cheetos and ice cream. 

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, February 15, 2017

When Freedom Comes

By Maggie Bartlett

One morning when I was 22 years old, I sat at breakfast with a close friend who spent years of her life pouring into me. She asked, “What do you want to change in you by next year? Where do you want to see growth?”

I responded, “I want to learn to be raw and messy, and be ok with my rawness and messiness.”

Though, when I thought about inviting friends into the real stuff, I withdrew, crippled by fear. I didn’t want to expose my bitterness, my jealousy, my pride, my need. What would they think if I asked for help? If I was honest? But I wondered, if I didn’t let others in on that messiness, then what did that mean for Jesus? Could he heal and redeem if I only gave Him and others pieces of my heart?

That’s when I realized I needed help. 

I didn’t want to be the kind of girl who sat with my best friend, feeling like my life was hanging on by a thread, bullets flying my way, broken and bruised saying, “Everything is great! I’m fine!”

I turned to friends. I told them my heart was broken, that I was angry and felt abandoned by the Lord. I handed shattered pieces of myself to the Lord, asking for help. 

Slowly, I shed layers of loneliness, fear, and anxiety. 

Over time and through rich relationships, He relentlessly worked to free me from personal and external expectations. He whispered that I was free from fear, free to make mistakes, free to have my heart broken and give it away again. I found freedom.

I knew I was making progress because a few months after my breakfast with my friend I gave a talk exposing myself, unafraid of what anyone thought. I was standing in a room full of goofy, loud high school kids and I started like this: “Let me let you in on a secret. It’s one I don’t like to keep to myself…I’m not perfect.”

I shared a story that I had never shared with anyone. I punched my 16-year-old brother in the nose, causing him to storm out of the car and march down the road in fury and hurt, blood gushing from his nose. Then, I said that Jesus wanted to be in my imperfections, even my temper tantrums; he wanted all of us, not just the pretty stuff.

“It is for freedom, he set us free.” - Galatians 5:1 

I know the damage caused by hiding, the weight of carrying suffering alone. I’m still prone to keep up appearances, especially as a woman, intimated by who thinks this or who has what or who is wearing that. Terrified to impose or ask for help. Tangled up in comparison, stifled by fear.

It requires courage and bravery to hand our broken hearts to friends and to the Lord, but this act of truthfulness and surrender is rewarded with freedom. I’ve witnessed the power of a friend saying “Me too” or “I know” and how in that raw, tender moment Jesus can silence the lies and nudge me toward grace. 

When we live out of the love that freed us, when we invite others into our hurt, we release the expectations of who we think we’re supposed to be, embracing the truth of who we are and giving others permission to do the same. 

Let’s live unrestrained, allowing others to see our imperfections and beauty and give Jesus the space he needs to rescue, redeem and delight our souls.

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