Thursday, February 16, 2017

Transforming My Mind One Telephone Pole at a Time

Post by: Nicole Stegink

I believe in the concept of synchronicity. Psychoanalyst Carl Jung explained synchronicity as “events [that] are meaningful coincidence if they occur with no causal relationship yet seem to be meaningfully related.” There could be long discussions on whether synchronicity really is just random chance or if it’s some phenomenon of science or nature, but for me when it happens, it’s a God moment. It’s God reaching out to me or instructing me through a set of seemingly unrelated messages that merge in some way to alter my thought patterns, re-direct me toward Him and help me recognize His will for me. I recently experienced a moment of synchronicity when a text conversation I had with a friend, an old photograph I had taken and a quote I like converged and caused an epiphany of sorts.

In one of my previous blogs, I wrote about how I navigated my way through my own painful divorce by connecting to God through photography. Since then I have discovered God delivers many of his messages to me through pictures I have taken. And sometimes it takes one of His acts of synchronicity, such as this story, for the veil to lift and my mind to be transformed.

My friend went through a divorce a few months ago. He expressed some of the challenges of achieving balance between work, being a single dad to four children and finding time to heal and practice self-care. In this particular conversation he was without his children for the weekend, and struggling with a few things: fatigue, motivation and whether he deserved to take time for himself. His brain desired to get up early and go do an outdoor activity; his body wanted to sleep in the next morning; he heart questioned whether indulging in a “me day in the mountains” was selfish. The only thing I could think of to help him was to send him two things: a passage from Brendon Burchard’s book “Life’s Golden Ticket” which speaks to being present in your own life and a photograph I had taken a couple of years ago.

I had taken a photograph of a sunrise from my backyard, and I thought maybe if I sent my friend this photo it would inspire him to get up early. A kind of “see what you miss when you don’t get up early.” Part of me didn’t want to send the photo, because while the colors of the sunrise in the photo are stunning, there is a huge, unsightly utility pole featured prominently in the frame. It has always really annoyed me because my backyard is bookended on the east and west sides by large utility poles. Every sunrise and sunset picture taken from my backyard -- and believe me, there are hundreds -- is not without wooden poles, wires and cables interfering with view.

So I sent a text of the book passage. Then I sent the photo. Finally, I sent a text with my own message that taking time to recharge is not selfish, that practicing self-care is one of the healthiest things we can do and that maybe the words and my photo would inspire him to wake up early and head to a place that would restore his soul. He responded, “When I first looked at the photo, I saw a cross and a beautiful sky – which is always an inspiration. Then when I read your text, I was shocked that you took this picture and realized I was looking at a telephone pole! How cool is that?”

And in that moment of reading his response synchronicity happened for me. My mind instantly recalled one of my favorite Thoreau quotes, “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” That quote, the photograph, and my friend’s reply all wove together and suddenly took on meaning. How had I not seen it? I had put so much focus on being irritated with what I was LOOKING at that I didn’t SEE. Clothed in my own earthly concerns and biases, my brain misdirected my heart and soul. I made the telephone pole be the thing that mattered to the point it inhibited my ability to see the cross. I had been looking with just my eyes so therefore, I was closed off to seeing with faith. That thought led my mind down a path of transformation, recognizing our human tendency to look rather than to see. I wondered if the Bible could offer any insight on this important matter of observation and perspective.

Researching passages in the Bible brought me to two verses: Romans 12:2 and Colossians 3:2. In the New International Version Romans 12:2 states, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” I also like the New Living Translation version which states, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

No doubt this passage means different things to different people, but for me it essentially explains the dichotomy between looking and seeing. I equate “Looking” as the part in Romans about being conformed to the patterns of the world. It is being rooted in our own minds, in our own perspectives, in our own problems, in our own worldviews, without the ability to open ourselves up to receive God’s will and God’s grace. There is potential to place more importance on our own take on things than God’s. “Seeing” is the part in Romans about being transformed by the renewing of your mind. It is changing our thinking, replacing human truth with God’s truth. And once we transform our minds in this way, we no longer look with human perspective, we see with God’s perspective.

Is there an area in your life where you are stuck? Where you have been “looking” and not “seeing”? Is there a way you can let go of this world and allow yourself to be “transformed by the renewing of your mind” so that you can “see” God’s good and pleasing and perfect will for you?

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. – Colossians 3:2

Nicole Stegink is a Colorado native and currently lives in Arvada.  She is active in the music ministry of BUMC, singing for both the traditional & 505 services and has been a member of the church since 2010.  She received her Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Creative Writing but currently works in the legal field and doesn’t get to exercise her writing skills as often as she would like which is why she is excited to be contributing to the church’s blog. 

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Life is Too Short for Matching Socks

Post by: Sara Godwin

As I have grown older, I’ve come to several conclusions; epiphanies if you will. These include, but are not limited to, the following: fighting with male members of the household over the position of the toilet seat is trite and not really worth it. Over is always better than under when one is talking about toilet paper positioning. Oreos can only be eaten after having been dunked in cold milk. The front row is absolutely fantastic; unless you’re in a movie theater, and, lo and behold, curds and whey is really just a fancy name for cottage cheese. Thanks Miss Muffet, that one confused me for years. What’s my latest and, truly, greatest realization? Life is too short for matching socks.

Yes, you heard me right, I’m talking about socks. This realization has rocked my world. Please, let me explain. I have spent a really large portion of my life trying to conform, to fit in, if you will. When I was a child, it was really important to have a cool lunch box. If it wasn’t just the right cartoon character or action hero, the entire school year could really be wrecked. One year my mom bought me a Fozzy Bear lunchbox and I thought I was going to die. As a tween and young teen, it was the need to be invited to the right birthday party, the quintessential sleep over (and to not be the first one to fall asleep), that really, really mattered. I worried about this one all the ding dang time. As a teenager, just finding my niche, being in the clique that really fit my personality, was all I could think about. Problem was, I didn’t really know who I was, what I wanted, where I wanted to go, or what really yanked my chain, so I felt like I didn’t fit in anywhere. It led me to do some pretty stupid things, all in the name of “fitting in”. 

When I was in my very early 20’s, I wanted so badly to please a person, that I married him. He wasn’t a person who wanted me to have a voice or my own opinion and because I desperately wanted to be liked, I allowed him to tailor my thinking to his ideology. I knew deep down that I was making a huge mistake, but I just didn’t know how to find my spine or how to stand up for myself, so I jumped in with both feet to a situation that I knew I couldn’t make last. At least I learned a few lessons from that one. As a young mother I wanted to do everything “the right way”. I read all the books, all the articles, all the blogs, on how to birth my babies, how to feed my babies, what sort of doctor I should look for, etcetera, etcetera. I was terrified of being criticized.

It wasn’t until I began to teach 4 and 5 year olds that I started noticing something. This need to fit in and conform can begin at a very early age. My students love to say things like, “If you don’t play this with me, I won’t be your friend.” “You’re not sharing with me, I don’t like you”. And the coup de grace, the one that really cuts deep, “You’re not invited to my birthday party”. I spend my days helping the children navigate these touchy waters, encouraging them to be kind, to stand up for themselves, and to resolve their conflicts without hurting each other. If I can help them, then I decided that I better be able to help myself!

I have finally decided that I no longer (for the most part) care what people think of me and my decisions. I mean, I want people to think of me as a good teacher, a caring individual, and a generally all around good person, but at the end of the day I’m not going to get all wrapped up in the drama of trying to please everyone. It’s just not worth it. That is why I have decided that I will no longer wear matching socks. It pleases me to wear goofy socks. It pleases me to wear as many goofy socks as possible. If I wear socks that don’t match, then I get more bang for my buck. And guess what? I don’t care if anyone else cares. I’ve decided to apply this philosophy to everything I do.

The Bible says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2. Yup. That pretty much sums it up. God’s opinion is the one that really matters and it’s the only one that I’m going to worry about.

Sara Godwin has been a member of BUMC since 2003. She is the Assistant Director and Teacher at Apple Tree Christian Preschool and Kindergarten where she has worked since 2007. She has two wonderful children, Rachel and Ian, a loving husband, Shawn, two awesome kitties, Lewis and Lucy, and a sweet dog, Minnie. She began at BUMC working in the Children’s Ministry, assisting with Sunday School before moving to the preschool. She also helps with Wacky Wednesday and is the self-described crazy lady who wears all sorts of costumes every year at VBS.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Serving and Protecting

Post by: Cristen Underwood

Three years ago, the dynamic of our family life changed drastically when my husband made a major career switch from being a banker to being a Sherriff’s Deputy. There is a lot that comes with the police life. Much of it we knew about going in; crazy hours, missed Holidays and Birthdays, insane amounts of training.

But there’s so much more that we weren’t expecting. This is a tough time to be a cop. There are more people than ever that are vocal on their dislike of law enforcement. There are crooked cops but there are also crooked doctors and lawyers and teachers and store owners and taxi cab drivers. However, unlike most other career fields, police officers are judged by the actions of a few. I see often see quick judgement when I tell people that I am the wife of a Law Enforcement Officer.

But here’s the thing, I am beyond proud of my husband. He is giving up so much purely in service and the desire to help others. What angers me most about these people that are preaching hate for our law enforcement is that those very same officers they rage against have made a conscious decision to protect them. The brave men and women that sign up to be cops run towards the problem instead of running away. These officer are the ones that come when there is trouble and fear and chaos and work to provide safety and peace.

I’m sure that my husband sees way more than he’ll ever tell me. I know he’s dealt with fatal car accidents and been there after suicides. I’ve seen him come home in tears after dealing with a child abuse case. He left a family outing to go help during a wildfire and came home covered in black soot, so tired he could barely move after working for 16 straight hours. Yet, after all the negativity and the difficult days, he comes home and plays with his sons and smiles and tries so hard to rejoin our regular family life.

I started following the police blogs and the police spouse pages on Facebook and just about every day, somewhere in America, a Law Enforcement Officer is killed in the line of duty. A wildly troubling statistic for the spouse of an officer. Several times a week a picture of a stoic man or woman in full uniform shows up on my news feed with the story of how they were killed and the spouse and children that they leave behind. And yet, even with a job so dangerous, my husband and all of the other Law Enforcement Officers get up to go to work at weird hours, put on a bullet-proof vest and promise to run towards the danger.

So, next time that you see a Law Enforcement Officer, say thanks. Tell them you appreciate their dedication. Tell them that you appreciate that on Christmas morning, while you were home with your family eating breakfast, they were out on patrol keeping you safe. Tell them to stay safe so they can go home to their families that love them.

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. -John 15:13

Cristen Underwood has been a member of BUMC for five years.   She lives in Westminster with her husband, five-year old son, two-year old son, a very old Siberian Husky and a really fat cat. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

We Are the Church

Post by: Theresa Mazza

If you could fly over America in a helicopter to get an aerial view of the church, what would she look like? I saw the most breathtaking view of the church I’ve ever witnessed while attending a weekend retreat with church leaders from around the country from every denomination and background. This diverse group of individuals gathered together to have honest conversations about the future of the church.

Here are just a few questions that drove our conversation...

  • Do Non-Christians see Christians and the Church as judgmental and exclusive?
  • Are we living in a post-Christian era? Why are so many of churches declining in membership?
  • What can we do about the reality many of our churches face: financial difficulties leading to closure, mergers, or bi-vocational church staff?
  • Are Non-Christians driven to or away from institutional and traditional forms of Church?
Does it sound like depressing conversation? The conversation was honest, messy, and inspiring. What I heard during these conversations gave me hope. I heard servant leaders simply searching for ways to love God, the Church, and their neighbors more faithfully.

Here’s the aerial view and truths I walked away with through this experience...

Transcending time and space

Church is not something we do at 9:45 each Sunday morning. Christians everywhere aren’t just going to church; they are being the Church. Being the Church transcends time and space. Wherever believers glorify God in their workplace, we are being the church. Wherever believers have safe conversations about life and faith without judging or condemning, we are being the church. Wherever believers serve their neighbors, and love them well, we are being the church. Church is not a tradition, a place, a time, a denomination, or gathering. Church is the body of believers inviting all of God’s children into a loving relationship with God.

Dialects of eternal love

The Chinese Language has 7 major dialects, and these 7 groups have sub dialects. Just as there are many expressions of any language, there are today many expressions of church. One dialect of the Chinese language is not more Chinese or less Chinese. There is not an expression of the Church that is more sacred or less sacred. The many expressions and forms of church is not cause for division amongst the church, rather it is cause to celebrate an expansive and diverse church that is more dynamic and more beautiful than ever.


Church is happening everywhere: schools, coffee shops, homes, parks, theatres, and even bars! Yes Bars!!! There are traditional, home, conversation based, and social venture based churches. This diversity is a home run if you ask me. It makes us more and more like God our creator who is, in fact, Omnipresent. If we are going to introduce people to Jesus and grow his church, it requires us to be everywhere at once. We cannot be bound to one place, or one way, only one God.

The Bride of Christ

The Church is the Bride of Christ. This Symbolism of being his bride means that we are closest to him. Therefore his children, especially children who do not yet trust in him, we are to love as our own children, caring for them, and meeting their needs. Within the church I see Christ’s bride very much loving God’s Children. We all love in different ways, and meet needs in different ways, and this is absolutely breathtaking. As a parent I’m in awe when I see how other people express love for their children. My friends parent differently than I do, their expression of love sounds different and looks different, but I do not question that they are loving and caring for their children as much as I care for my own.

The church is expressing God’s love in beautiful, different, extravagant, new ways.

This was my aerial view of the church. What do you see? And in what ways are you being the church?

Theresa is a youth advocate, writer and speaker. She’s also a professional singer who has performed with Travis Cottrell and Beth Moore’s Living Proof Live conferences, Nicole C. Mullen, Truth and many others. She’s married to BUMC’s Worship Arts Director, Joe Mazza. Check out more from Theresa at

Friday, January 13, 2017

By Faith

Post by: Mwangi Ndonga

One of the most transformative (and interesting) events in history was the Christian Reformation. It became a dogmatic course-correction and a theological gut-check of the Church. Recall, that one of the major insights during this movement was the interpretation of Romans 3:21-22: “But now a righteousness from God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”

More than anyone, Martin Luther emphasized this verse and called it the “the chief point, and the very central place of the Epistle, and of the whole Bible”. I’m convinced.

My interpretation:

  • God’s grace is given not earned. Period. No matter how much money you give, how many rules you observe, how many people are angry at you, how many awards you win, or how worthy you think you are.
  • Everyone is messed up. But through faith, we can become righteous. You’re in good company. Some Biblical messer uppers: Adam, Cain, Moses, Noah, Abraham, Jacob and his sons, the Israelites in general… just check out the Old Testament. In each of their narratives you’ll find a course-correction or gut-check.
  • You and I, my friend, are guilty but the charges have been dropped. All you have to do is thank Him that gave you new life.

An even better summation of this free grace is the hymn “Amazing Grace”.

’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Mwangi Ndonga currently lives in Broomfield with his wife, Talesha, and son, Kamundia. They have been members of BUMC since 2010. Mwangi primarily serves on the Worship and Arts Ministry by playing piano and bass guitar during the Contemporary & 505 Services. He works as an environmental, health and safety professional in the oil and gas industry. An avid reader, Mwangi loves discussion on almost any topic, especially music and theology.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Planning for Prayer

Post by: Heidi Schwandt

I’m a planner, and I am not a very patient person…. lately the combination has been challenging.

In the last few months I have started the task of researching schools to send my daughters to and I have become sort of obsessed…In 2 months’ time I think I toured 6/7 different schools and after many hours of thought decided on a winner—the perfect school for my girls. But this school was just too far of a drive from where we live now, SOO now we would have to move too. Thus, I began looking at neighborhoods that we may live in if we were to start in this new school for the 2017/2018 school year. If anyone asks me “how have you been?” or “what have you been up to lately?” This has been the vein of every answer, I have been trying to surgically execute my perfect plan for the next few years as we transition our family out of Preschool and Kindergarten into the world of elementary school and big kid stuff. See, planner & impatient (sigh).

What is it that is worrying you? What are you trying to plan for? What are you having a hard time waiting for?

Is it the birth of a baby and what will happen after he is born- will you return to work, who will help care for him if you do? OR A career change you have been looking to make but you’re not sure of the timing or if the next job will be all you hoped for? Maybe you’re looking to retire and are unsure about what is coming in this next chapter of life? OR you want to buy a new home and in this real estate market you feel pressured to move fast on one of the biggest purchases of your life instead of giving yourself time to think & pray.

Do you ever wonder if throughout all this God is just watching us while softly chuckling or shaking his head in disbelief/frustration as we try to plan our lives on our own despite what He’s told us? The bible tells us repeatedly that He will take care of it. God is in control and all we must do is give him the reins and trust, wait, & pray.

We all like to plan and map out our lives so we know what to expect (some of us more than others), what to save for, what to look forward to and this doesn’t just affect us, it affects our spouses, children, parents, friends… because that’s what we as people do- our “tribes” offer their support in these decisions.

Yesterday, I felt frustrated all morning as I yet again broached the topic of moving and schools with my husband who simply shrugged and said “We’ll figure it out, we have time” and then in the same breath asked “Where do you think we should plan a vacation to this year? I would like to do a road trip to some national parks?” WHAT?! I mean, I’m trying to plan for our children’s future and find a home that we will love as much as the one we are in now and he’s thinking road trips? Normally, that would be a fun conversation to have- planning a family trip, but today I could not see ANY fun in that proposal—something was wrong. I had to stop and ask myself: “What am I missing as I plan and worry my future away? Did I REALLY enjoy my children today or was I distracted? Was I being a good listener when my best friend came over earlier today or was I monopolizing the conversation? What about my spouse- am I being empathetic to the long hours he has been putting in lately and how badly he needs that vacation or am I too focused on my plan to nurture and care for my relationship the way I should be?”

A small voice inside my head told me not to allow the devil to get a foothold on my frustration and turn on my husband for not taking all of this seriously but to simply PRAY. SO, I went for a drive and I Prayed for patience, I prayed for peace, I prayed for perspective and mostly I prayed for God to take back control! I needed to STOP, PRAY, WAIT, and LISTEN. I needed to be present, listen, live each day for what it is- a gift. And give the rest to God. He WILL line it all up for us, He WILL prompt us when the time is right, He WILL be sure that everything works out for you and yours—IF you ask, IF you let HIM. Yes, God gave us free will, now we must use that to CHOOSE wisely… let Him take the wheel while we enjoy what we have right in front of us and find peace in that HE will provide for our future—even if it’s not the one we had planned/envisioned.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hears and your minds in Christ Jesus.  -Philippians 4:6-7

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil  
-Proverbs 3:5-7
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. -Jeremiah 29:11 

In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps  -Proverbs 16:9

I am a Chicago girl living in Colorado for 8 years now. I have been married to Ed for 12 years and have two beautiful children, Vivian & Natalie. After spending several years working for the American Red Cross while living overseas in Germany I moved to Colorado and worked in the financial industry for 7 years. Now I have the privilege of being a stay at home mom and wife. I am mostly a homebody but will get out of the house for time on a lake or river (basically any body of water), dinner with friends or fishing! Most of my personal time is spent with my husband and kids or working on yet another one of my home improvement projects, I am a DIY junkie and have done everything from drywall to electrical and carpentry, not to mention hours of painting. I have been a member of BUMC for about 2 years and a follower of Christ for as long as I can remember. It’s been a blessed life thus far and I’m excited to see what else God has in store for me.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Shame Game

Post by: Elliott Holm

In the beginning of October, Ken gave an excellent sermon in church, where he opened up to the congregation about his own difficult and sometimes shameful moments in his life. The whole sermon centered on people feeling shame for the things that they do, but to allow yourself to be forgiven, no matter how difficult or grave the event is from which your shame comes.

That is what I want to address as well. As a teacher, I make constant mistakes throughout my day. I’ll say something wrong during my lessons, fumble over words, and even the worst, calling a student the wrong name. All of these things come back to me when I drive home from work, and have time to be alone with my thoughts. I’ll run through my whole day, and focus on all the wrong things I did, or people I wronged, and focus on shaming myself. However, this ritual is largely problematic, and can even be the reason why we frequently lose sleep at night.

I’ve been reading a book with my students that focuses on ways to become an effective adult. This particular author created a term for when we do this to ourselves, called The Shame Boomerang. It goes a little like this: Step 1: There is an inciting incident, Step 2: Getting bad feelings from the incident, Step 3: Forgetting or getting distracted temporarily, Step 4: Shame returns later, usually during alone time or when you put your head down to go to sleep, Step 5: Continued bad feelings. After I read this in the book, I realized this author had my number. These were the exact steps I went through in my life, and the same things that I blamed myself for as well. She says that the most important thing we need to do is create a mantra for ourselves; something that we can always say to ourselves, not to dismiss the problem and avoid it, but to remind ourselves that we’re human and that we make mistakes. The one I landed on that works for me is “It’s done, and if I’m faced with this situation again, I won’t make the same mistake.” Now, when I make one of the aforementioned “shameful” mistakes, I tell myself, “Well, that’s unfortunate, but what have I learned from this, so I can make sure I don’t do this again?” This mantra turned my shame into a learning experience, which is the most important step in dealing with shame.

Lastly, Ken’s sermon helped me tie this in to Jesus’ love for us. Every time we wrong other people, but have the best intentions in our hearts, Jesus will always forgive us; it’s one of the most incredible gifts we’ve been given. Remember all the incredibly heavy sins and shameful moments Jesus encountered in others, and please continue to remember that he forgave all of those people. You going through your daily life and trying your hardest is nothing to ever feel shame about. Take a breath, remind yourself that you’re human, and if you need, create a mantra for yourself to focus on turning your shameful situations into learning. The Lord will be there with you for every step of the way.

Elliott has been attending BUMC since 2012 with his wife, Kyla. Since attending, he has worked with technology for services, as well as camera work on Easter and Christmas, while Kyla sings. He is a high school Gifted and Talented teacher at Wheat Ridge High School, and is in his 6th year of teaching. He lives in Arvada with his wife and two dogs.