Wednesday, September 20, 2017

But God...

By Rebecca Barnes

I went into labor with our first child on a Sunday afternoon. We had gone to church that morning, to a small place that would always take a moment during the service to pray for the children before they dismissed them to kid’s church. The minister would encourage families to put a hand on a child’s head, and then he would ask for God’s best for them. Every week several hands from friends and acquaintances sitting nearby would reach across to touch my growing belly. They all prayed for our child that day, too.

On our way home I began to feel the first pangs of labor. It was ten days early so I wasn’t sure about what was happening. Also, my labor was slow. Finally, on a Tuesday afternoon, I gave one final push and our baby arrived. I was so relieved and happy that I took a couple of breaths before I even noticed that the baby was not making a sound.

The umbilical cord had broken sometime during the pushing and the doctor was unclear how long the baby had been without oxygen. He told me later that he had never seen anything like this, except in a miscarriage.

The nurses and doctor rushed the baby over to the side of the room to suction her nose and whatever else to revive her.

I began a loud prayer begging Jesus for my baby. I don’t think I’ve ever prayed more fervently either before or since.

My husband was rushing from my side to the baby’s.

“Is it a boy or a girl?” I asked him.


After a minute of time standing still, I heard a tiny whimper from the middle of the crowd of nurses and doctors who hovered over my baby.

My daughter sucked in her first breath. And just like the first human, God breathed the breath of life into her nostrils, and she became a living being.

After a while longer a nurse finally brought her over to me and laid her little five-pound self on my chest. She was quiet, sleepy, and nothing else mattered.

Thousands of years ago, God told his people to remember what he did for them. He told them to keep souvenirs of the miracles he performed. He wanted them to keep a jar of manna to always remember that when they were hungry, he literally rained down bread from heaven. (Exodus 16:32-34.)

He wanted them to remember that when they were facing an impossible situation, he would make it possible. But I think even more than that God wanted his people to know that he was close—always.

The Israelites didn’t remember that most days. Most days they just saw their problems and complained about them. But I get that. Most days I don’t think about the moment God gave my daughter her first breath.

But when I need to remember this I do have a souvenir. We gave our girl a second middle name that means “miracle”. It reminds us that God is close enough to reach his finger down from heaven and make a tiny heart beat.

❀ We'd love to hear your "But God" stories to encourage our community of women! If you have a story please email 

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, September 13, 2017

It Is Well

photo by BARTLETTcreative

By Maggie Bartlett

Recently, a dear friend suddenly announced that she would be moving, and soon. While this new adventure was certainly exciting, it left me reeling as I tried to quickly adjust to the news. She was one of my closest Denver friends and a soul sister—a place where I felt safe and loved in scary and hard things. Panicked about her move, I thought about other friends who could possibly “replace” her companionship. She wasn’t dying and would only be a phone call away, but I wondered how could I fill the gaping hole she would inevitably leave behind? 

My dad passed away two years ago. As my family stepped into our third year without him, I noticed a shift in my grief. It didn’t go away or “get better,” I simply recognized that after he died, we were unknowingly racing around to fill his void—with all sorts of things. I finally grasped that my mom couldn’t be both my mom and my dad. She could only be my mom. I understood that my mom could not hope that her children or friends would be the voice of reason and wisdom that my dad was for her. No one else could fill that space the way he did.

We are given a unique place here on earth. We cannot be replaced nor easily forgotten by our family and friends. And, I can’t bend and mold another friendship to fit in the precise hole my friend left behind. I’m not able to borrow and steal qualities from others to make up for the gap my dad left. 

Part of grieving is eventually acknowledging the empty space left by a loved one. 

I knew he was not coming back but that’s such a cruel and vicious truth to accept. It’s much easier to distract yourself from the void, desperately trying to fill it, than to let it be.

So, when we just let the void be, what’s left? Is it a reminder that we aren’t in control? That we are finite? That we must hold all things loosely? Maybe. But maybe it's more delicate and gentle than that. 

In loss, we are reminded of the beautiful gift we were given and that we were forever changed by their presence, richer for our memories and journey alongside them. 

We’re given a quiet and sacred power to carry with us and stabilize us in a disorderly world. And, our other gifts become more precious and dear to us.

I suspect it’s something different for each person, though. As we face various forms of loss—a loved one, a job, health, stability, dreams—we find our own sense of hope and peace in the absence…eventually.

For me, this small step forward in acknowledging, understanding and even embracing the void left by my friend and my dad is a teeny, tiny stride toward claiming: “It is well with my soul.” It’s not fully well with me today. It probably won’t be well tomorrow either. The thought is almost alarming. That a loss so devastating could ever be well? Yet, declaring that truth amid pain might actually be a form of worship and praise. It’s almost an act of defiance against the enemy, choosing to praise Him in the absence rather than be swallowed up by tears. We can embrace loss, proclaim and cling to his truth and fight to believe It. Is. Well. 

photo by BARTLETTcreative

“All is well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”
                                                             – Julian of Norwich

May it be well with your soul, too.

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, September 6, 2017

Vulnerability = Connection with God and Others

About a month ago, I met a woman with a tattoo on her shoulder. The tattoo was of a cat made out of ham. A hamcat. It was strange and hilarious, and it was plain as day at my eye level on her bare shoulder, so I asked her about it.

Me: Is your tattoo of a cat made out of ham?
Hamcat Tattoo Lady: Worst decision of my life. 
Me: Yeah...

An interesting conversation ensued. We laughed. We connected a bit, and here I am, a month and a half later wondering about the Hamcat Lady because while we spoke for five minutes, I thought she was awesome. I mean, first of all, she was quirky enough to tattoo a picture of a hamcat on her shoulder. And secondly, she had no qualms about being vulnerable enough to admit that she regretted her tattoo.

And think about that. I LOVE when people just own their stuff. It’s so courageous and interesting and real. And it’s what I love about Flatirons.

I feel like Flatirons Church, at its core, has always held tight to 2 Corinthians 12:8-10, the verses about Paul’s thorn.

You know what vulnerability is? Vulnerability is the Hamcat Lady. Vulnerability is saying, “Hey, I have this mistake that I made, and I’m going to walk around with it plastered to my shoulder for the rest of my life. I could try to cover it up, but I’m just going to wear it on my arm and feel the regret that I feel and let you feel how you feel about it. You might criticize and hurt me, but here’s my stuff.”

And that my friend, is how we connect. We boast in our weakness. It’s how we connect with other people, and it’s how we connect with God. Because a sure way to connect to God is to tell Jesus, “I messed up. Here are my weaknesses. Here are my struggles. Here are my failures and shortcomings. Here are the horrible mistakes I’ve made. I've heard I can ask you to forgive all of that, and you will...Are you sure you’re willing to forgive all of that?”

Flatirons is full of people with Hamcat Tattoos. Full of people with thorns in their sides. God could get rid of the hamcat. He could pull out that thorn, but many times, God chooses to use that hamcat/thorn to connect us instead, because nothing is wasted with God. Not even a Hamcat Tattoo.

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, August 30, 2017

Choose Gratitude to Escape the Comparison Trap

"For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made." - Psalm 139:13-14

I was chaperoning my youngest daughter’s soccer team in Las Vegas. We had a break between games so I thought I would go for a jog to burn off some calories and stress. I asked the gal at the front desk for directions to a bike path or running loop. Since most 2.5 star hotels aren’t located in the poshest of neighborhoods, she looked at me funny and suggested I hit the hotel gym instead.
The hotel gym turned out to be about the size of a closet, with two treadmills jammed next to each other, inches away from the four mirror-lined walls. Right when I hit the start button on the treadmill, my 3 o’clock alarm, set to remind me to give thanks to God every day, sounded on my phone. I thanked Him for being able to exercise and for the much-needed time alone. 
Fifteen minutes into my workout, the door swung open and another soccer mom entered, dressed to sweat some stress out too. We greeted kindly, stuck our earbuds in tight, and got busy moving. Within minutes, I noticed that her pace was faster than mine, her legs were stronger than mine, and her stomach was flatter than mine. So I did what came naturally, I made up excuses. I’d had three children. Oh crap, so had she. I was working and didn’t have time to exercise. Darn, so was she. 
When making excuses didn’t work, I went to Plan B: competition. I glanced at her speed, looked down at mine, and then cranked it way up. I jiggled faster and faster. Sweat poured down my face into my eyes, blurring my contact lenses. When I tried to wipe the sweat away, I lost my balance, tripped, and was propelled back into the mirror behind me. Startled and embarrassed, I limped back to my room where God gently reminded me that comparing myself with others could be quite dangerous. 

God was right. If I’d stayed in the space of gratitude and not been swept away into the comparison trap, I’d have enjoyed what my body could do and been stronger in body and spirit. 

We will always find people who are smarter, faster, skinnier, richer, stronger and wiser than us. So, what if we run our own race with gratitude as we cheer others on in their own race? 

Looking back, I could have complimented her for being strong and fast. Instead of learning later that day on the soccer sideline that she was training for a half marathon, I bet she would have told me about her upcoming race right there in that tiny gym. I would have known that our goals were very different. Her goal was to get a personal best finishing time, mine was to have a good time reducing my stress level. If I’d only gotten out of my crazy head and been lead by gratitude, I could have avoided the embarrassment and been a witness of God’s unconditional love. 

Where do you need to replace comparison with gratitude?
Thank God for how He uniquely made you, with all your strengths and abilities. Give thanks that you are wonderfully made. As you run after your goals in life, keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. When they wander to compare, snap back to your race and let gratitude lead you on. 

Laura Busse lives in Boulder, CO with her husband and three non-stop teenagers. She is the founder of the 3 O'Clock Wake Up Call, a movement to promote daily gratitude to God. This movement believes giving thanks to God every day will ignite your faith and change your world.