Back to School; College Perspective!

Back to School; College Perspective | By Lila Smith

“There is no growth in your comfort zone and no comfort in your growth zone.” -Anonymous

As we all know, life is a constant cycle of change. It’s exciting. Overwhelming. Scary. Hard. Emotional. Every time a new school year comes around, I tend to be all too familiar with these emotions, at a higher level than usual.

In just a few days, I will be loading everything up and getting ready to enter into my sophomore year of college at GCU. My experience in college so far has been full of fun experiences, awesome friendships, insightful classes, and a deeper growth with my Savior, everyday. But in the midst of all of these great things, there has also been anxiety, discomfort, heartbreak, and homesickness. As a result, I am learning to daily rely on Jesus alone. To lay my struggles and worries at the cross, instead of trying to deal with or solve them on my own.

Messages Image(1924536944)My freshman year the Lord really planted a desire in my heart. The desire to build relationships with others, and to be someone who is there for listening and understanding them. I felt very called to apply for the position as life leader at my school. From my perspective, this is the dream – to get to share the Gospel with the girls God placed on my floor, and to be a safe place for them to bring their worries, insecurities, and struggles. This opportunity I am about to take is both exciting and exhilarating. But it is also terrifying. I do not feel qualified enough for this job, and I have to constantly remind myself again and again everyday to not compare myself to others and to their talents and abilities.

As nerve-racking as it may seem in my head, I am welcoming in this new season of change with open arms. I am jumping in head first to this position which God has called me. And, I am trusting Him to supply all my needs.

My freshman year alone, I left a changed person. The experiences I had, the people I met, the relationships that deepened, the classes I took; all shaped me in ways I never could have seen or imagined before going to GCU. Here are some of the things the Lord taught me, which I find to be helpful wherever you are in life right now:

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  1. Make time EVERYDAY for YOU and JESUS; Make HIM your BEST friend

Bible studies, chapel, worship nights, and even church just won’t cut it. Relationships grow from one-on-one moments. Make him your number one, all other friends and family can come next. We look like the friends we hang out with, so why wouldn’t we want to hang out with Jesus?

  1. Be INTENTIONAL

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Go out of your way to show people you care about them and want to get to know them and/or spend time with them. Make plans. Stick to the plans.

  1. IRON sharpens IRON (Proverbs 27:17)

The people you spend time with influence you, and vice versa. Make sure your peers are lifting you up, not pushing you down. Healthy relationships make a healthy, happy you.

  1. Get INVOLVED

Whether it’s ministries, church groups, adventures, just get involved! Community is a great thing that God gave us, and we need to use it to our advantage.

 


Lila Smith is a college student at Gr and Canyon University in Phoenix…Lila Smith is a college student at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona. She is a Sophomore majoring in Psychology, with a minor in Christian Studies. She currently spends her time hanging out with friends, being a life leader on her floor, studying, going on adventures, and doing ministries on her campus. She plans to work in the church and/or be a counselor later on after her college years are over. 

Light in the Darkness

How God the Father, Protector and Provider, battles for his daughters | By Micaela Krumweide

A couple of months ago, I finished a nine-month discipleship program through my church, during which God revealed my calling. There were three things God explained my calling involved: women, being abroad and fighting spiritually for those in bondage and chaos.

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Toward the end of the program, my pastor announced our church’s partnership with Freedom Challenge and the mission trip to Moldova for a “vulnerable girls’ camp.” This was an exciting opportunity to start working in this calling; however, a worldly reality settled over me—I was already raising money to finance another mission trip in May, so how in the world was I going to raise funds for an even more expensive trip one month later? But that’s just it, isn’t it? It seems quite impossible to raise this money according to the world’s standard, but we do not live according to the world.

So one night I was lying in my bed pondering this possibility, and I heard God’s voice so clearly saying, “Do you trust Me? Do you trust Me financially? Do you trust what I can do? Do you trust Me?” I did not answer, so repeatedly He asked me. I am not quite sure how long it took before I could even answer, until finally I answered “yes.” So I signed up and began the process of raising money, and of course, it all came in—and then some!

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There I was, already seeing God’s hand in this trip. Realizing that this was right, this was what I needed to do, this is where He wants me. So now, it was time to pray for the trip. Somehow, I came across 1 Peter 1:3–9. I kept coming back to this verse, and every time, the words “hope,” “inheritance,” “suffering” and “salvation” remained, fixed in my heart and mind.

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The realization of darkness. When we arrived in Moldova, it was easy to feel the darkness that surrounds this country. There is a lot of corruption, very few jobs and many broken families. People have little money and are not living—merely surviving. Parents and children are abroad making money in other countries, so there’s no money and no family or community. What a terrible tactic of the enemy. We all felt the darkness, and as we began to feel it harder to smile and harder to laugh, we arrived at the girls’ camp. Understandably, the girls were very stoic and hardened, and very few smiled.

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The camp began and games were played, messages were heard and prayers were essential. I could see a covering of that camp, and lightness began to illuminate from the girls. Smiles were everywhere, and laughter was amounting while the Spirit guarded this camp and the fight for victory commenced. The battle that had started within these girls became evident.

One night, we planned to have a time to pray over the girls. They told us about their situations—some had parents abroad or a parent who was an alcoholic, they were taking care of themselves and they grew up too fast. It was clear what the enemy was trying to accomplish—he was robbing their hope, hiding their inheritance, making it hard to see anything but suffering and fighting against their salvation.

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However drained I felt did not matter because I was humbled recognizing that this was not my fight; this was the battle for the Spirit inside me, and it was ready to fight these tactics of the enemy. There was a very clear prayer that kept arising, and I spoke it over every girl I touched. This prayer left my mouth countless times: “May this girl know that she is the daughter of the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, that this is her inheritance, and it cannot be taken away from her. Cover and protect her as she leaves this camp back into her situation.” It was evident that God wanted to defeat the enemy’s strongholds and bring life to these girls.

The final night was the time to deliver the message of salvation. More than ever, it was clear how badly the enemy was fighting to keep these girls in pain and suffering. More than ever, it was clear how badly God wanted to give them freedom, truth and life. At the end of the message there was an altar call. Victories. Hope. Salvation. Peace. Life. Joy. Value. Identity. Love. All of these accomplished!

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The victory! God called me and provided for me so that I could partner with Him and see Him overcome. It’s scary to think of these girls back in their situations after being protected and loved at this camp. But I trust God, and my hope is in God. I saw firsthand the extent to which He fights for these girls. I have no doubt that because of the battle fought at that camp, there have been seeds planted. In these girls, there is a newfound hope, a recognized inheritance, a new perspective of suffering, and the gift of salvation!

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I had the honor of being used to fight and cover these girls (learning lessons of trust and humility along the way), and I trust that God continues to fight and cover them right now as well as all of us. God the Father, Protector and Provider constantly battles for His daughters! Oh how amazing He is!


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Micaela Krumweide is a college student at the University of La Verne who took a year off to do a nine-month Discipleship Program at The Father’s House church in San Marcos, Calif. She is excited to continue missions and partnering with God to fight spiritually for those around her and is awaiting the next step after graduating in two years.

 

How to Plan an Epic Adventure

Three valuable tips for your next outing, getaway or grand vacation | By Josh Clements

You don’t have to be a superhero to have epic adventures with your loved ones but after following the tips in this blog, you’ll probably be mistaken for one.  

When asked about epic summer adventures in July, in San Diego, I was drawn to a comic book analogy like like Superman is drawn to shouts of “help!”, like Tony Stark is drawn to a mirror and like Stan Lee is drawn to, well draw anything…(things just got a wee bit nerdy, I’m sorry, please hang in there).  BlogPost3However, what I’m really saying here is that when I hear the word “epic” I immediately think of heroes, quests and the exciting things that happen and the memories that are made as a result. 

A wise man once gave Peter Parker some sage advice: “with great power comes great responsibility.”  This is very true.  However, when thinking about “summer time” I thought of a phrase that contains the essence of this advice combined with my own philosophy: “with great amounts of time, comes great opportunity.”  The question you may have is “opportunity for what?” All of us have an opportunity to have an “epic summer adventure,” however, just because it is summer, and it’s a vacation, doesn’t automatically make it “epic.”

It is on an epic quest that our heroes; find their purpose, overcome challenges and finally achieve their goal.

For anyone planning an outing, getaway or grand vacation remember to do these three things that epic heroes have done before us in literature and film:

  1. Define the purpose.
  2. Identify and prepare for challenges.
  3. Achieve something great for our family and friends.

I believe that all of us do a great job of the first two.  

We make a plan: “This summer we are going to Disneyland so we can go on the rides and meet the characters.”  

We prepare for challenges: “We will pack a backpack full of snacks and water so that ‘little Johnny’ doesn’t have a tantrum while waiting for Dumbo.”

However, we can look to our hero for advice on how to shift our summer outings from mere vacations to epic adventures by achieving something great:  

BlogPost6After his third year at Hogwarts, Harry routinely visits the neighboring village of Hogsmeade to partake in warm and tasty drinks at The Three Broomsticks and pick up some candy at Honeyduke’s Candy Shop.  Does he go alone?  BlogPost7No, he travels with his best friends Hermoine and Ron.  While there, they enjoy their time.  However, they also take the time to connect with each other.  They share the experience of partaking in everything that Hogsmeade has to offer, but they also talk about many things, are transparent, and, as a result, become better friends because of these conversations.

Does Harry plan his travel? Yes.  Does he take in the sights and sounds “the foreign land?  Yes.  Does he rush off to “check something off” his itinerary?  No.  

This is essential.  

He spends time with his best friends.  He talks with them about what is on his mind.  He shares the experience with 

them.  They sit.  They bond.  They develop their relationship.  This is what we sometimes miss while on vacation; focusing on using the time we are given to build relationships with the people whom we care about.

It’s easy to think  “oh man, I spend $300 on tickets, $1,000 on airfare, and have only five days to experience it all. Sooooooooo we only have 15 minutes to sit on this beach before we “have to” move on to the next thing.” BlogPost8Another wise bearded man (no, not Dumbledore) said “All you have to do is decide is what to do with the time that is given to you.”

No matter how much money you spend ($5 or $5,000), it is essential to focus on what is most important; who you involve, the words you speak and the relationships you build.  No matter what, you will take pictures of the sights and of your fellow adventurers.  Later, when you and your travelling companions look at these photos, what will they remember?  Will they remember you pulling them along to look at an exact replica of a Nimbus 2000 or will they remember the conversation you had before you ate a handful of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans and the face you made when you tried a lawn clippings flavor?

Different locales are amazing; various beaches, different countries, even hidden parts of our own city are perfect settings for your adventure because they allow us to create shared experiences. What will you share? What will you do to make your time epic?”

The time will go by like The Flash (sorry, I couldn’t resist), how will you make the most of it?

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image1Josh Clements is an excellent planner of fun family outings, day trips and long, eight hour dates with his wife, Hannah. As an Eagle Scout, he knows how to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Together Josh and Hannah help raise Adam (15), Gracie (11) and Aidan (8). Josh has been a professional educator for 12 years and is currently working at San Marcos High School where he teaches 9th grade English and is the yearbook advisor. Josh and Hannah own the “little green house on the corner” in historic Escondido from which they often “adventure” to buy donuts from Peterson’s Donut Corner.

The Adventures of Salt ‘n’ Peppa

Just For Laughs | by Sonya Finley

So here’s the deal. Tracy and I love to get together and do something interesting for our December birthdays. One instance a few years ago was no exception.

That particular year, we decided we had exhausted the ol’ dinner and a movie routine and wanted to try something new. I thought a trip downtown to the San Diego Gaslamp District would make for a very cool evening. Because parking is usually a painful affair, a ride on the COASTER sounded like a fun option. Of course, it didn’t hurt that I worked for the transit agency and could ride all modes for free—can you say “Bonus!”

I pitched the idea to Peppa…or is it Salt? Anyway, Tracy loved the idea. Citing her trip to India she managed to convince her husband that she would be safe. “If I can go to the poorest parts of India on my own, surely I can ride public transportation.” Surely!

Since I came up with the idea, she picked the restaurant. A nice, upscale, happening little place, with all the ambiance two ladies out on the town needed to make the evening great. Lucky us, it was only a few blocks from the trolley station. This was going to be good, right?! We were excited.

The day of our date, Tracy was dropped off at my job and we rode together to catch the COASTER. If you have never ridden the COASTER, I suggest you do it at least once. It takes you from Oceanside to San Diego on a route that travels right alongside, well, the coast. And the views are, well, coastal. Just kidding. It is a lovely ride though. Even better when you are traveling as the sun goes down. The hour long ride gave us plenty of time to chat, as girls like to do.

By the time we got to the final COASTER station in San Diego, it was relatively dark. No worries, the station had plenty of lighting, and our wait for the trolley was not long. We soon found ourselves at the heart of the Gaslamp District. As I mentioned before, I checked Google Maps and found that the restaurant was only a few short blocks up from the Trolley station. But, as my sense of direction can be a little wonky, I accepted Tracy’s suggestion that she Google the directions to make sure we were headed the right way. Awesome-sauce! I love smart people with good ideas.

We were both dressed up for the occasion, however, after about 15 minutes of walking I sorely regretted the cute little booties I was sporting with my cute little outfit. We seemed to have been doing quite a bit of walking but not quite reaching our destination. We walked by some nice hotels, a few cool restaurants (not ours), and even brushed up against a not so savory area where the homeless found shelter. I was a bit confused, and might have even mentioned it, but I trusted Tracy and the directions she was getting from her navigation program.

20151211_203532After several more minutes of walking, which included a much needed pit stop; we finally stopped and asked for directions. In fact, Tracy even called the restaurant to make sure we were headed the right way. That was a really good thing . . . because when we finally got our bearings, we realized we had passed the restaurant (and other buildings) at least twice— maybe even three times—in our efforts to find our way to the place we were seeking.

 

All in all, what should have been a brisk 10 minute walk to the restaurant, ended up taking these adventurers almost a half an hour!

How is that, you ask? The restaurant was only a few blocks from our drop off point you say? Well, let me just give you a little piece of advice. When you are walking and you seek directions from Google Maps be sure to click the “walking man” icon, not the car. Yeah. Needless to say, we got back to the station a lot quicker than we did going.


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Sonya A. Finley (SonyArletta) is an artist and designer currently working “undercover” at North County Transit District and will soon be moving over to the San Diego Airport Authority. She is a proud mother of four young men: James, Kevin, Joshua and Johnathan. Sonya attended US International University, School of Performing and Visual Arts, where she majored in Advertising Design, she received her Associates in Fashion Design from FIDM and her Bachelor’s in Fine Art (painting emphasis) from Mississippi State University.

Our Fathers by Bethany Luchetta

Our Fathers – Our Identity | By Bethany Luchetta

Father’s Day Month! Month?! Why did I agree to write about fathers this month!? I will start by admitting that I slept through the Father’s Day breakfast that my mom had planned for her husband (my dad, Thomas). You might be asking yourself why I called him “her husband.” He’s the dad who raised me. And really the only guy whom I call Dad. But he didn’t make me. I also have a birth father, whom I call Chad. Anyway, I was depressed about Father’s Day and how it makes me feel, so I slept through the morning.

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April (younger sister), Bethany, Dad (Thomas), Heather (older sister)

Luckily for me, my dear-sweet-redemptive-father-example (aka my own husband) was home hanging out with our little Livvy Lou. I did eventually drag myself out of bed because Vince had to work some Israeli Defense gig at the Point Loma Synagogue. (I guess the Israelis don’t celebrate Father’s Day?!) After getting myself out of bed and lounging around, I was eventually convinced to play at the pool with my magnificent 3-year-old. So, this is me, and maybe you?

I am trying to be graceful with my sentiments. I am growing, and some years are better than others. I am working on being intentional at finding the good in any situation. In the meantime, it’s hard to pretend how I feel about my identity in relation to the connection—or lack of connection—I have with my fathers. I keep telling myself to write gingerly—family will read this, friends, my community. But, if I am not real, who can

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Vince, April (younger sister with her son), Bethany, Thomas (dad)

resonate with this part of my humanity? I admit, I don’t have the worst story I have ever heard, but that doesn’t discredit my struggle. And it doesn’t discredit yours either—good or bad or indifferent (or somewhere on the continuum). The fact is, I feel displaced on Father’s Day. Trying to celebrate makes me feel fake.

The facts are: I was adopted by my dad (Thomas) and never knew my birth father (Chad). My birth certificate was changed, and I was not even told I had a “birth father” until I was 10 years old. I knew something wasn’t “right” all along, but I could never put my finger on it. I felt displaced, disconnected and alone for most of my childhood. How can someone feel these things with two sisters and a mom and dad in the home? At 18 years old, I met my birth father and then a whole rash of horrible events within my home rolled out against my soul.

When I met my birth father, it brought up old history for my parents—insecurities and both passive-aggressive and aggressive behaviors that seemed to be directed at me for rocking the boat. My older sister, who shares the same birth father, wasn’t ready to meet Chad, and my little sister, who doesn’t share the same birth father, was feeling oddly

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Livvy Lou, Bethany, Chad (Birth Father)

displaced from me and my sisters’ situation. I don’t want to expound too much; they have their own stories. Nonetheless, my experience of the emotional struggles here began to shut down part of my heart. I didn’t feel safe with the world around me, and I started working even harder to gain God’s approval for my worth. I ventured even farther down the road of shame and confusion.

It is said that we get our idea of God from the father(s) we had. I have been in a spiritual crisis; fathers are distant, unreliable, untouchable—they walk away. I can work really hard and do really well, and still it’s not enough! I see how I have put this stigma on God. I am attempting to learn God is indeed good. He doesn’t force us—or our fathers (or mothers)—to do what He requires. He gives us all free will to choose; therefore, we end up with “humanity,” fallible humans walking around attempting to base our choices on our own definitions of right and wrong. I used to say, “Grace given, for grace desired” because I wanted it myself so badly. It seems to be ringing true once again in my ears.

I queried my birth father this week for this blog. I got to ask him if he missed me when I was young and what it was like for him as a Father not to have me around. I explained to him how I have an issue with ‘out of sight – out of mind’ based on the fact that I have never resonated with the ‘missing’ feeling. I figured if a Father could leave his daughters,

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Chad (Birth Father), Livvy Lou, Bethany

and not seen them, is it even possible to miss people? Do we just get shut out? Hear me out for a minute. I hear people say, I miss ‘so and so’ and I judge them; thinking to myself that they are being dramatic. People say they miss others because it’s the right thing to say when someone is gone. I’ve learned that. But, I don’t feel that. How can someone really be missed if my own father was out of my life and never connected with me. I am not worthy of being missed, and I wasn’t missed, so how can this be a real thing. The closest thing I can relate it to is grieving the loss of my first husband. When he died, I grieved. I am not sure if I missed him, or I missed the hope of what could have been for him. Or missed how he made me feel or the history we had. But, did I miss him? I watch my daughter miss her father (my husband). I say to myself, does she really miss him? It seems like she does. This is why I had to ask my birth father, “Did you miss me all those years?” He said, “Listen I was pissed off at a lot of people for a long time. It would have been different I suppose if I never saw you, but I saw you, we connected.”  The fact is, I was missed, I am worthy of being missed. I overflowed with crocodile tears. That spoke to my soul.

God is gracious to me. He gave me an amazing husband who is a great father to his three daughters. I tell him constantly that he is raising the little Bethany in me. Jamie Humphrey said in her recent blog, “what is submission, if not by free will.” Submitting to love is our choice, not coerced upon us. What is love if not by a free expression of our soul? God is good alone in the fact that He doesn’t force us to love Him, or anyone else. I am starting to get it. Even with all the daddy issues the people of this world carry, God is still good and available for a relationship to teach us what Father love looks like. That in itself is spectacular to me as I am learning to trust Him as a Father.


IMG_1943Bethany Luchetta is married to her love, Vince. She mothers her growing toddler and two beautiful girls from Vince’s first marriage. Bethany runs her own Property Management and Real Estate Brokerages. The love of personal growth and theology pushed her to explore her deeper calling. Attending Dr Henry Cloud and John Townsend year-long Life Coaching Program in 2013, she was inspired to plan for her future career in Theology and Family Therapy at Bethel Seminary. Bethany is preparing for her revocation through Life Skills International, a 32-week personal growth course in San Diego.