Tune-in-Toyko

Tune-in-Toyko | By Bethany Luchetta

Featured image by soundlister.com

John 10:3: The parable of the sheep hearing the voice of the thief and robber verses hearing the voice of the Shepherd. In this passage we hear two different tales. Jesus is illustrating what a Good Shepheard does for his sheep. He also shows us that there are other voices in the pasture, voices that are designed to kill, steal and destroy (John 10:10).

What are the voices in your life? Are you able to distinguish them? For as long as I can recall, my greatest desire has been to distinguish clearly the voice of God. But I get stuck.

Here is what I can say for sure: When I spend the vast majority of my day tuning into the voices of shame, rejection, abandonment, fear, self-righteousness, pride, exhaustion, control and perfectionism – Gods voice comes muffled and confusion begins. I get overwhelmed with a sense of ‘being lost’ ‘walking in the wilderness’ or ‘being in the barren desert’. These are popular spiritual conditions we speak of when we lack clarity and direction. I get discouraged because I simply just don’t know the way. I am looking for answers, but I can’t find them. I can’t tell you how many times I have said, “Trust me, I am looking for answers. I am paying a lot of money and spending a lot of time, looking!”

In life we hear all sorts of things. From the moment we start hearing in-utero, we start collecting data on our DNA – subconscious or not. What our caregivers say, what our friends say, what our teachers say, what we hear and see and absorb from the world around us. We are message processing centers. The voices get rehearsed or reinforced and we buy into truths or lies or fantasies and set patterns. These are the ‘tapes’ of your mind. I believe humans are three-part beings made up of 1. Body 2. Soul 3. Spirit. I define Spirit as the part of you that exists forever. The Spirit is the part most Christians believe is secured and justified upon trusting in the faith of Jesus as God. I define Soul as the part of you that is timeless; absorbing data from your lineage, trauma, life source, nature, environment, shame, culture, and so on. I believe your Soul is defined as the part of you that lives in a legendary battle on earth. It doesn’t keep your Spirit from being justified, but it can certainly keep you from freedom on Earth. Soul is the part that stores scripts and tapes and patterns; the voices we hear.

I believe that Genesis to Revelation paints a clear picture of the war of good vs evil. I believe the beginning of the Bible tells a story of a humanity needing redemption. C.S. Lewis says, “humans sinned themselves to death” (Problem of Pain). God then brings hope to the scene by explaining throughout the Old Testament, that a Savior would come, God himself, to Earth to conquer the war. God himself would take responsibility for the sin of man (set out in the beginning), and make a way for humanity to take back their rightful redemption. So, God came as promised, as a man, Jesus. He took on the sin of humanity, was murdered, then conquered the curse on Earth, and rose from the dead as promised. This opens the door for us to choose justification in our Spirit to be secured eternally. It also gives us the free will to choose daily on how to break the curse off our soul through sanctification. When this is heard and taken as personal, it’s called, The Good News.

I always thought that authors of the New Testament were a little bi-polar in their story telling. They would say that we are perfect in Christ. Complete. Not lacking anything. A reflection of Christ. Then they would turn around and write, don’t do this. Do this. Work this out. Trials will come to perfect you. What mixed messages. But, then I realized: Both are true! My Spirit is good; locked in. But my Soul needs to “work it out”. It’s the classic battle for Souls. It’s a battle for you to live free from the bondage of the insanity of this Earth. It is so that the life of your Soul can ignite others to find life in their Spirit. Your Spirit can be secured eternally AND your Soul can have an awesome life here in the meantime. “Thy Kingdom come on Earth as it is in Heaven.” The kicker, ‘who Jesus set free, is free indeed’. We are free from the curse of the Earth because of what Jesus did on the cross. Before Christ, we were not able to obtain this type of freedom. However, we must choose to be free, first for our Spirit and second for our Soul. Life and Life MORE abundantly (John 10:10).

In 2016 my family had the privilege of living one house away from the famous, Jamie & Eli Humphrey. It was a cold 40 degree, dark 4am and my husband and I were sound asleep. We both awoke to an unfamiliar noise. We heard scurrying and scuffling and then dogs barking. My husband knew this wasn’t the Humphreys coming over for coffee and donuts. He sprang to his feet and said, “Call 911” and dashed out the room, down the hall, and out of sight. I did what any mom would do, I checked to make sure my child hadn’t been abducted from her bed, and once secured, then I called 911. I made my way to the kitchen slider to see if I could make out what had happened to my husband, and I saw a stark-naked Vince (or as he says, ‘I was wearing socks’), holding down the intruder from behind in the pigeon-pose. Vince was also yelling in Spanish, and he doesn’t even speak Spanish. I saw the police lights flashing out front, so I ran to the street to get help. Just then Eli came outside to see what was happening, and I yelled, “Vince has the guy pinned down in the back yard, hurry!” I was yelling to the Police, but Eli responded. He ran and somehow scaled our 8-foot, side-yard fence, running as he yelled “Viinnnccce!”.

Yes, it was scary in the moment and example of how your ears need to distinguish danger. But, we were relieved when we found out that the intruder was just running from the police (12 police SUV’s to be specific). It was also kind funny when Eli realized Vince was only wearing his socks.

In closing, can you distinguish the voices that come to rob you? Are your ears tuned into the voice of God in such a way that if you hear another, you will know?! “If someone’s trying to steal your life, you should know which strategy they are using to try to still your life.” Erwin McManus April 8, 2018.


fullsizeoutput_d51Bethany Luchetta is a writer of life and reality. In hopes to connect with the humanity around her, she writes from her heart. Bethany just celebrated 7 years of marriage with her love, Vince Luchetta. They are both on their second marriage. Life has not been without challenge in their personal lives and career lives, yet they strive for growth in love and tragedy. They share three beautiful daughters, Makayla (17), Paige (14), and Livvy Lou (4). If you see them, reach out and say hi!

Observations of a Blown Mind – Who’d a Thunk?

Observations of a Blown Mind – Who’d a Thunk? | By Sonya Finley
A Freedom Challenge Story

This past June, I had the opportunity to participate in the Bryce/Zion Freedom Challenge 2018. I was unprepared for the unexpectedly awesome experience it would be. Who’d a thunk hanging with a bunch of women in the canyons of Utah would be so mind blowing? I walked away with quite a few profound observations.

Who’d a thunk. . .?

. . .a great love could be displayed in so many small ways?From the very beginning, I felt like God was reminding He loved me in very small, special ways. From being upgraded to Premium Class on our departing flight, to the “I got you” attitude of the young lady working the counter at the car rental office, to the sweet ride (Nissan Armada, fully loaded, leather seats, sunroof…you get the idea) I drove in to Utah, to the women who supportively listen to my story without judgement, to Ms. Barbara whose prayers reminded me that “the who” that I am has purpose, to finding the perfect cluster of trees with a wooden “bench” that made it easy for me to “take care of much needed business” on my first hike, to the surprising connections made, to the leader who sought me out because she had not seen me all day, to the care shown by the prayer team as they prayerfully massaged the aches and pains from our feet after each hike. And even though I felt a wee bit discombobulated (well a lot discombobulated), my Beauty for Ashes painting presentation was well received and gave the ladies a much needed “lightness” after a very heavy day. I gotta say, I left feeling very loved indeed.

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. . .A single word could be so powerful?This year the prayer warriors gave each hiker a word. One word prayerfully considered and totally applicable to the woman who received it. These words resonated with the women all week long and for some, was the difference between giving up and finding strengthto keep pushing.  There were also quite a few ladies who latched on to an “unexpected” word spoken in a manner of power and joy. Hallelujah!I do not recall the context in which I was asked to say it, but I did. And while the women responded in kind, I thought that was the end of it. But for the next few days, I was told several stories of how that word was spoken from the “mountain top” and how it inspired songs of praise. I saw it being intoned at the beginning of prayers and I, myself, used it before my presentation to bring focus in a moment of perceived chaos. A simple word, so full of power, praise and joy. (Of course, I have now been dubbed the “hallelujah hiker”.)

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. . .that challenging yourself for someone else’s freedom would lead to your own?We were there to fight for others who were in no position to fight for themselves, but much was said about how we are all overcome with our own versions of enslavement. Issues that hold our identities hostage filtering everything we believe about ourselves through a lens so dense we lose sight of our purpose, our power, our possibilities. The challenge of the hikes provided an opportunity to put a very physical action to a very spiritual deliverance. The act of pushing oneself beyond your comfort put the women (including myself) in a venerable place open to healing and deliverance. For the Level 1 group, the “Sassy Silver Sistahs”, we picked up a burden at the beginning of our second hike. We named it and then literally through it away, an action that symbolized a burden being released and given to God. There were tears and the released burdens were weighty. We all came down the mountain a little lighter that day.

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. . .stories of enslavement can be found in our back yard?We were blessed to hear the story of an American woman’s journey from being enslaved by her mother and stepfather to finding a life of freedom that included a long-lasting marriage, children, and a passion to help others out of where she used to be. Her strength to endure being locked in a room where she was practically starved and sexually abused daily and her courage to share her story was powerful. It reminded us what we were there for.

. . .a professed non-athlete can stand proudly and call herself a hiker? So, shortly after I said yes to this challenge, I realized the magnitude of what I agreed to. I agreed to hike for three days in a row?! Not one, but three?! Say what now? But I’m good, right? I walk 5k’s, 10k’s and half marathons, so I should be okay. I thought, until I began training. I felt well out of my depth—unqualified and unable to complete the challenge. I professed this lack—often! I’m pretty sure I annoyed my teammates to no end. My anxiety around this event was high. But I’m no quitter, so I showed up and faced my fears. Fears, which, I must be honest, did not abate until I sat with our Sherpa (Roxy Hicks—she’s awesome!) and she let us know what to expect. I will even admit I got a little excited …what?! I hiked three days! Three very different types of hikes! It was not a walk in the park (literally), but I got through it and I actually enjoyed it. Our leaders’ approach went far to make all of us feel less self-conscious about our level of abilities and kept our focus on enjoying the journey (and taking pictures!). On the last day of the conference I proudly proclaimed, “I am a hiker”. This declaration received a round of applause, a standing ovation from my dear Sherpa, and I became the proud recipient of the proverbial (and literal) “big girl panties”!

. . .that I am capable of far more than I think?What I didn’t think I could do, God should me I could. Simple as that.

Who’d a thunk indeed…

A Freedom Challenge hiker, that’s


20180625_171510Sonya A. Finley has been living the single life for 24 years. In that time she has raised four awesome young men (James – 26, Kevin – 23, Joshua and Johnathan – 18), graduated from college with a BFA, and began a huge step in her professional career. She is on the verge of a new season in her single life that now focuses on a journey not centered around child-rearing. She has made many mis-steps, learned quite a few bits of wisdom along the way and is happy to share with women who find themselves in the same place.

Guest Blog – Building Your Own House

Building Your Own House – Chapter Two of Chop Wood, Carry Water by Joshua Medcalf

Author gave permission to use his work here. As we embark into July; discussing freedoms, having hot dogs & hamburgers, let’s remember with each action, motivation of our heart, every syllable, and even our unspoken communication – WE, are, building, our, own, house. 

 

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Summer Lovin’

Summer Lovin’ | By Bethany Sousa
Creatively speaking, I always-seem-to-never be able to focus during the summer. I’m always distracted. When I think about summer, I immediately picture being at the beach with my siblings, parents, and sometimes friends, sitting on boogie boards with salty hair, sandy feet, eating a tuna fish sandwich and sipping on capri-sun. I can remember as if it were yesterday. There was such a freedom in summer vacation as an adolescent. Those precious few months of pure bliss of having no expectations from a day-to-day routine of mundane class-work and constant battles of friends being mean and being embarrassed by my unique and different qualities. Oh how I loved those summer days of letting my cares be as free as my hair was while jumping on the trampoline and riding our bikes around the neighborhood. As I got older, more responsibilities piled up which made summer vacation more of a mindset and less of a gift. 
Do you remember when you realized you no longer had “summer vacation”? I was fresh out of high school and taking classes at a community college, working full time at a restaurant, interning, and trying to keep friendships. I remember thinking, “I will never have a free summer vacation ever again”. It was the first taste of a little dish called ‘adulting’, and I was forever changed. I realized I had to work if I wanted to have that ‘first kind’ of summer ever again. Summer went from being a euphoric freedom to being just a season of the year where it was very hot and I had to work a lot because my job was always understaffed and, well, it’s tourist season. However, once I realized that summer could be a state of mind, I noticed a maturing in my heart working itself out.
Summer was becoming about self-love, taking the time to rest, allowing my hair to fly like it would as a kid. Instead of being stuck in the past of summer being about rest and adventure and being mad about having to work, I noticed I had a choice to be able to see this season in an old way again. 
Each year I forget about this summer mindset of liberation. I will get caught up in focusing on so many details of my life and what is happening around me to schedule and keep up with, that I forget to love myself. I always admired watching mom’s in the summer-time.
How you keep your kiddos entertained 24/7, I don’t think I’ll ever understand! You’re epic goddesses! As I watch my family members and friends battle balancing mommy hood with activities, and scheduling playdates, and dinners, all while working being daughters, wives, sisters, friends, etc. How in the world do you ever find time for your summer love?!
Talking with a few close friends who seem to “look like they have it all together”, I realized they don’t! They just never NEVER give up on what brings them joy. One friend is an artist, she teaches it thats how much she loves it! Mommy of two kiddos under the age of three, a kick-booty-wife and friend. And not to down play her incredible heart for praying and taking care of her family, I constantly think to myself “I could never do what she does… I’d loose my mind!”. However, she has taught me over and over again that she finds her balance in never forgetting what she loves to do. Gardening, cooking a new recipe, painting for her friends, going to new coffee shops, simply being spontaneous. Does it look different now in her late 20’s? ABSOLUTELY!
Why should life growth and changes keep her from having that trampoline hair, or even a tunafish sandwich on the beach, moment? It shouldn’t! Self-love is such a gorgeous and delicate vase that we have. Keeping fresh, vibrant flowers in it is a hard task to achieve with all the chaos, yes. But just pause to imagine what life would be like if we could take the same time it takes us to fold a load of laundry, that never seems to end, and do something for ourselves every couple days! Oh, what peace we would find. God has given us unique and fantastic skills and passions. Imagine if we took time to invest in those skills and passions. Maybe a Jesus moment is waiting to be found! Rest is a gift we need to learn to receive from ourselves, lets help each other find it. Lord knows we need it 😉

 


IMG_3304BETHANY is a singer/songwriter currently living in Nashville, TN. Her dream and desire is to partner with other artists collaboratively to help bring awareness to the audience an awakening of purpose. In today’s western culture, we have focused too music on selfish ego and not enough on the bigger picture–we’re all here for a purpose, and we all play an important role in achieving that goal in each other  Art is such an intense expression and tool to use to help awaken peoples minds and souls of their own existence. Music heals us mentally and spiritually, and one of her main goals is to help bring that healing, one song at a time.

What’s Love Got to Do With It?

What’s Love Got to Do With It? | By Sonya Finley

Featured image from: (https://www.walsallcollege.ac.uk)

A couple of weeks ago, my “blogger in crime”ended her post with the question, “What if we considered how we loved our children as a measurement of success?” Well, I ask you, “What if we considered how we loved people (all people) as a measurement of success?”

These days, there is a lot of discussions centered on diversity, inclusion and unconscious bias. The responses range from defensive anger, to candid conversations, to denying its importance. Even you, as you read this may have a polarizing reaction based on what you have read, heard, or experienced. But have we really taken the time to see what those words truly mean? And what does it have to do with loving others?

As a person of color, my default meaning of diversity and inclusion is the never-ending fight to belong, to be included, to be seen, heard, and accepted for being me. Understanding bias is accepting the fact that when I go shopping I will be followed by a sales clerk who tries to hide it by surreptitiously fixing a rack of clothes that don’t need fixing at all because she believes I will steal (yeah, that happens a lot). This vision is based on my own experiences, yet they are certainly not the only way these concepts can be experienced.  Diversity, inclusion, and unconscious bias encompass so much more than just race relations.

I recently had the opportunity to hear Dr. Aaron Bruce, Chief Diversity Officer at SDSU, present on this topic. He was African-American and has experienced marginalization because of his race, but his presentation was not race-centered. It was presented in a way that greatly expanded the attendees’ understanding of what those big ol’ words mean on a much larger scale. He pointed out how all humans have biases against a variety of characteristics—gender, race, ethnicity, religion, socio-economic status, background, education, physical abilities, politics—the list is endless.

Here are a few highlights from what I found to be a powerful and enlightened presentation:

  • “Equality is about ensuring everybody has an equal opportunity, and is not treated differently or discriminated against because of their characteristics. Diversity is about taking account of the differences between people and groups of people, and placing a positive value on those differences.”Equality is not enough. The goal is diversity or in this case equity. Dr. Bruce explained this concept using the illustration of three different people, one tall, one short, and one in a wheel chair,all trying to see over a fence to watch a game. Equality says give them all the same crate to stand on—which is fair but still does not enable everyone to
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    Original image concept Craig Froehle

    see over the fence. Equity considers their differences and gives them what they need to achieve the same goal. One person (the tall one) needs nothing, the other (the short one) needs double crates and the third one (in the wheel chair) needs something totally different. This reminds me of what parents do when they have more than one child. Each child is different and so, understanding this, they may employ different methods to raise a healthy, happy, successful adult. Equity is giving everyone what theyneed to be successful and understanding that it may not look the same for all.

  • “If you are not intentionally including, you are unintentionally excluding.”This was kind of my “aha” moment. He proved his point by engaging us in an exercise where we listed our top ten “ride or die” friends (your “go to” homies that know you best). Then asked us to note which ones matched us in characteristics such as, gender, race, age, social class, and sexual orientation. Not surprisingly, for most, our friends looked very much like us. Dr. Bruce let us know this was not a negative, it just highlighted the fact that people are naturally drawn to other people who are like them. Because of this, we may find ourselves within an exclusive community—unintentional, but exclusive all the same. So, since it is not our natural inclination to engage with those who are different, in order to achieve diversity and inclusion, we have to intentionally step out of our comfort zone and seek out those that are different.

 

  • Unconscious biases are social stereotypes about certain groups of people that individuals form outside their own consciousawareness. Racial prejudice is pretty straight forward and needs no definition. Implicit or unconscious biases, not so much. Biases are those generalities we apply to whole groups of people even though we have only experienced it with a few. They are those unconscious feelings we have that influence our judgement of certain people and how we may treat or react to them. These biases can be determined by a number of things; lifestyle, media, environment, experiences, or how we were raised. For example, the media constantly bombards us with the stereotype that fat/overweight people are lazy, ugly, and unhealthy. And while you may not purposely be mean to people like that, you may find yourself judging their eating habits, changing yours, and vowing to lose weight so you never find yourself in their place. Your conscious mind says you would never treat a fluffyperson differently, but your reaction to them is different than your reaction to a slender person would be.

So what does love got to do with this? Dr. Bruce ended his presentation with the concept of empathy (which is a key component of love). “When it comes to the inability to practice empathy/love, lack of exposure to or an understanding of other people or cultures is the primary culprit.” We are called to love one another in the way Jesus loved us—with unmerited grace, mercy, and without boundaries or conditions. To do this, we must intentionally step outside of our own likenesses and like-minded communities. We must be authenticand seek to understand our own identities—what are our triggers and fears. We must practice active listening, turning off our inner voices and focusing on the other person. We must get curious, assume a learning mindset and find out what has shaped the other person’s life. We must respect and connectby being more open and respectful of one another. Doing all this leads to empathy and understanding of the world around us. Only then will we be able to say we truly love people as we have been called to do.

Yeah, that’s what lovegot’sto do with it.


20170113_074913-1-1Sonya A. Finley has been living the single life for 24 years. In that time she has raised four awesome young men (James – 26, Kevin – 23, Joshua and Johnathan – 18), graduated from college with a BFA, and began a huge step in her professional career. She is on the verge of a new season in her single life that now focuses on a journey not centered around child-rearing. She has made many mis-steps, learned quite a few bits of wisdom along the way and is happy to share with women who find themselves in the same place.