In Celebration Black History Month

In Celebration Of

February is considered the month of love. In fact, our blogs for this month were dedicated to different concepts of relationships. However, February has also been designated at Black History Month. In honor of that, The Daughter’s Blog writers have chosen to write and highlight African American women that influenced or inspired them the most.


Maya Angelou:  April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014
Beth Sousa

Black history month was one of my favorite times of the school year as a kid because I was taught about people who spoke out in courage and bravery against inhumane treatment of people and exposing the inequality of man. I loved that as I got older, the lessons and depictions of these people got more exposed to me and I was able to grasp the intensity of their actions as I matured. One of those incredible people that always stuck with me was Maya Angelou.

Maya-Angelou-quotes-AmazingNow, I could take up all my allotted words to just quote her and I think you would agree – that’s powerful enough. However I think there’s something to be said about such an incredible woman in the creative arts. Being a creative myself, I loved seeing/learning about a woman who has played such a powerful role in society not only with text, but in leadership, community outreach, and song. I look at this woman and think to myself, how do I follow in those footsteps of courage to say, create, sing, write, and DO what I believe the Lord is enticing me to do?

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

This quote is one of my ABSOLUTE favorites, because it’s so very provoking. It makes me die to myself and dare to share in whatever capacity I can. Maya was a woman of grace, but also a woman of power. She, to me, is such a great depiction of a real feminist – a woman who holds herself accountable to her morals, values, core beliefs, and sense of equality. She taught me that I cannot expect to change the world, but to expect that God can use me to move the world.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ~Maya Angelou


Anita Baker:  January 26, 1958 –
Bethany Luchetta

I admire Anita Baker for her strength and determination to push through all her early childhood adversities and become an amazing singer, songwriter, social icon, and mother.

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A “few” things I love about her:

  1. 1.She overcame the challenges of being abandoned at an early age, then losing her foster parents at the age of 12.
  2. She began her music career at the age of 16 and then took time off from an extremely successful music career to raise her children while they were young,
  3. Her rocking music! Music which has won her 8 Grammys, a platinum and gold album.
  4. Her decision to retire last year at the young age of 60 because she did not want to work herself into the grave.

“Anita Baker: Her unique, towering voice has remained an influence in contemporary soul music, mixing jazz traditions and picking up several Grammy Awards throughout her career. The legendary singer has four No. 1 Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums, including Rhythm of Love, Giving You the Best That I Got, My Everything and the platinum-selling Rapture.” ~Billboard Magazine.


Queen Latifah (AKA Dana Owens): March 18, 1970 –
Sonya Finley

There are many strong, powerful, insightful, inspirational African American women in history. Some are well known, such as Harriet Tubman, who, after finding her own freedom from slavery, risked her life helping others find theirs. There is Josephine Baker who had to leave the US to become an icon of the Jazz Age.  There is Rosa Parks best-

known for her role in the Montgomery bus boycott of 1955-56. And of course, Michelle Obama, America’s first African American First Lady who, while, standing by her man, was able to create her own identity as an advocate for education and healthy living. There are also others who are a bit lesser known, but equally important. There are women such as Phillis Wheatley, an educated slave who found fame in 1773 by publishing a book of poems–a book that included a preface by 17 men to provide proof that she actually wrote it. There is also A’Lelia Walker, daughter of the famous Madame CJ Walker, who was a great business executive and patron of the arts. She became known as the Joy Goddess of the Harlem Renaissance for her role in bringing together artists, writers and intellectuals.

I have always been a fan of Queen Latifah’s story. It is ground breaking in its own right. She started at one point then proceeded to another, defining and redefining who she was and what she was capable of. Never allowing society to tell her what she could or could not be.

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Latifah began her career as a rapper and won a Grammy for her single U.N.I.T.Y.  In the 90’s she branched out into acting, first in films such as Jungle Fever and Juice. She later went on to star in the sitcom Living Single (one of my favs!). It remains one of the few sitcoms to feature and focus on a group of African American women. Queen Latifah pursued this side of her creativity with gusto with performances in a list of movies far too long to write here. Her most acclaimed role may have been in the hit musical Chicago. But I liked her performance in a recent version of the musical Hairspray.  These musical debuts bring me to the next great thing in her story—her awesome singing voice, which can be experienced on several albums produced under the name Dana Owens.

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Latifah’s accomplishments include, but certainly are not limited to: rapper, record producer, actress, CoverGirl Spokesperson, talk show host, and singer. Such an inspiration, I cannot wait to see what she does next!


 

Why Not?!

Why Not | By Bethany Sousa

When you are single, ‘relationship’ can be such an ugly word. The kind of word that makes you feel gross inside. Like you ate too many nachos or something. Okay, maybe that’s too dramatic, but I’m sure you can relate. I’ve been single most of my life, and to be honest it’s been an emotionally challenging concept for me to understand. There’s nothing more annoying than meeting someone for the first time and them asking, “So, are you dating anyone?” my response of “nope” is always followed by the dreaded, “Why not?”. Sometimes I want to respond with something rude like “Gee-I don’t know. Why don’t you go figure it out for me ‘cause obviously I don’t know what I’m doing”. Sometimes I want to be bluntly honest and respond with “It’s because I have standards and apparently I can’t seem to find a man out there who’s not too lazy or self-centered to respect them”. Then there’s those times where I don’t even want to answer and would rather walk away. Most of the time I just respond with “I don’t know”, because I really don’t know. Because let’s face it, if I really knew, I’d probably fix it. It was uncomfortable having this question asked every time I met someone new, so I decided to face my frustration and dissect my discomfort and have an honest conversation with God about this why not question looming over me. 

I’m a single woman, who hasn’t been on a date in over two years. Still holding the “V card”, and fearful of getting married late, or worse never! I’m not even a deep fan of online dating/apps because I still believe in the whole love at first sight gushy stuff. Now that I’m inching toward my 30th birthday, I’ve been reflecting on this “deal” I made with God about five years ago. I had just turned 25 and I was mourning over this lost identity that I had created for myself. It was this image (or to put it plainly, an expectation) of being married in my early 20’s, having a house, having kids, of being this ideal woman that I saw so many other ladies around me fulfilling with such poise. But on my 25th birthday, I realized God had something else in mind, and my “idea” wasn’t really meant for me. This didn’t mean that it didn’t hurt when none of these things happened, but I realized a valuable mistake had been made on my part. I had planned out my life according to what I thought was supposed to happen. Because of my social upbringing, I had planted that sucker deep into my souls’ identity. This really messed with my personal view on who I was as a woman both in life and in the Kingdom. While I watched so many of my friends get married and have kids while slowly drifting away from me and into their magical world of marriage, I couldn’t help but continue to hear this “why not” question on repeat. So I dug deeper with God. Spending a lot of time trying to understand what relationships are and what healthy expectations even look like. Through the last five years, I have gone through different seasons of mourning as well as expectations that were tried and tested. My theology was tested. My morals and values were tested. Even my character was tested, and I still came out asking “why not”. 

IMG_3202My expectations became a vice instead of guidelines. I used to think boys didn’t ask me out because I wasn’t pretty enough, but I realized I probably didn’t notice when a guy was interested because I was so locked onto this idea of a man. Blind sided by myself – that let’s face it, wasn’t even real! It was a fantasy made up to keep me hopeful. I was taught by church to have this list of qualities I wanted in a man and that God would fulfill them. You can imagine how eager I was looking around, waiting patiently, anxiously tuning in to hear God say, “And now Bethany, here is your man!”. And then imagine the disappointment in my heart as I lived the following years trying to find him on my own – because apparently God was making me hunt him down. Yeeeaaahhh…that also didn’t go so well. 

So, here I am today, and that question remains the same. However, I find myself responding differently now. You see, I realized my hearts mistake in trying to tell God what I was going to do with my life, while thinking I could also follow Him as a disciple. I recognized my disobedience, was willing to put in the time, effort, and willing to feel deep pains of correction that would realigned my heart with His to receive freedom. “Why not?” Well, maybe it’s because my story is different than my friends, my moms, even my siblings. Maybe it’s because my personal journey is going to speak to a specific person. Whatever the reason, I’ve learned to not let it loom over me like a cloud of fear and worry. But instead, I’ve learned to let it be a gift that gives me freedom and tenacity. I don’t know if I ever will get married, have the house, the kids, etc. But I do know that that isn’t my current reality. It is a dream that I pray becomes reality one day. I can hope and have faith for, but it is not my identity. 

IMG_3220Time and time again I see such incredible women get stuck in life because of these expectations. I get it, we were made for and desire intimacy and companionship. As I began searching deeper in my heart, and asking the Holy Spirit to reveal to me how I must move in a direction of fulfillment, it came down to some important personal perspectives that I, and I alone, had to change. One day at a time. 


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.

Don’t Slap the Princess

How many of us know that we can do something with healthy motivation, and do the same exact thing, with unhealthy motivation!? Being clean or tidy, for example. It can be our natural bend, gift mix or personality – birthed from a healthy desire for our life. Or we can be motivated to clean from our deficiency, fear, or control. One motive gives life, the other takes life. One may manifest from love, the other striving for love.

images-2When we think of today, we may think of hearts, candy, love, flowers, etc. Do you ever associate Valentine’s Day with love for yourself? Daughters young and old, from every culture and religion, learn from others how to love themselves – or hate themselves from a young age. Most of how we understand love comes from the caregiver(s) we had growing up. In turn, most of us project our understanding of love learned from caregiver(s) onto God. We ‘learn‘ about our need for love; acceptance and validation (or our fear of rejection and fear of exposure) early in life. But, our projection on God from what we’ve experienced on earth is typically lightyears apart from His true expression of love for us.

DoingVsBeingGods loves doesn’t change. But we do… we are human after all. What happens when a child does something they aren’t proud of? My daughter will hide behind my leg or tuck her head into my shoulder in anticipation of having to apologize for something she isn’t proud of. Sounds like Adam & Eve. Shame causes us to react. Some shame is there to keep us in the boundaries of healthy living. John Bradshaw would say, “Healthy shame says I did something bad. Unhealthy shame says I am bad.” Wait, some shame is bad? If we didn’t have the feeling of right vs wrong (shame), what would limit us from bad behavior? There are some times we do need to be repentant of bad/shameful behavior. Set that aside, I’m talking about the unhealthy shame motivation. So many of were raised with a gaping hole from the love we needed verses love received. We simply walk around with shame reactions all the time – we think we are bad.

How many times have we felt, or said, if they knew XYZ about me, they would not accept me, or even reject me. How can we be fully loved if we aren’t fully known? If we are the sum of all our parts, which make us a whole person, we can’t be truly loved if we aren’t truly known. Sounds like a recipe for a lifetime of emptiness. But Gods Love is so powerful; He fully knows us, still sent His Son to die for us (while we were sinners), and Loves us without condition.

140216-2What if we could change how we thought about shame, love and acceptance? Maybe we struggle to love ourselves? Struggle to be fully known, so we hide; tuck and run. Do you ever notice yourself trying to explain, justify, clarify, or rationalize your behavior? This is rooted from a unhealthy toxic learned shame (noted from: LifeSkills International). We do this to try to legitimize our need for acceptance and love. So ‘what if’ when the desire to vindicate yourself pops up, instead you stop and say, “I am okay with me! God is okay with me!” What if we took a conscious effort to love our SELF. I’m not talking about being selfish, or even the narcissistic approach that the world has adopted on the topic of self. I’m talking about actually looking at yourself like a small child – lovable and squeezable and innocent – because you are!

Imagine that you are truly the Daughter of the King and KNOWING that He doesn’t condemn or shame you. He openly embraces all your parts, and you can too!

 

38C4C6F500000578-3807402-image-m-2_1474879237125I’ll admit I have a dire desire not to be misunderstood. Its roots look like shame: they say I’m not good enough for me, so I must rationalize, explain, justify, and clarify myself to you (even if /when you haven’t even asked for my epilogue). Have you ever been ashamed of your shame!? I have. It isn’t pretty. I waste so much time and energy grasping for the love and acceptance of others, when I could stop and accept the Love of Christ, and the love for His Daughter (myself!). Ha! I got a picture of me walking up to Princess Kate and slapping her in the face. Holy Cow. How disrespectful! Jesus reminds me, you do this every time you beat yourself up for not being good enough. You are a Daughter of the King. A treasure. R.E.S.P.E.C.T

If we really had bad behavior, we can own it. We can expose ourselves ASAP. And then, instead of going to negative self-talk, “I’m stupid”, “I always do that”, or “I’ll never get it right”, we can change our ways, and agree truth – “I did bad, but I can change my behavior and make this right”, “I am okay with myself because Gods way works for me”, and, “God alone is my vindicator, and He loves me!”.

LOVE!


IMG_2727Bethany 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 (3). If you see them, reach out and say hi!

Love. Babies. Lessons.

2017, and all it’s waves of good change, came crashing into a shore full of washed up lessons. I knew I was in a place where I needed to value family more in my heart. I also knew I was in a place where I needed to surrender a specific stronghold of bitterness but I didn’t know how. All the big blessings came and it wasn’t until the end of the year that I would realize how God was going to use them.

15327388_10207641282331963_3824460975027479935_nIn December 2016, my husband Josh and I attended the “Gifts” course at The Father’s House. It was very eye opening! We were coming to the end of the time we’d been planning to wait to have a child together. Frustration was building because we weren’t where we thought we’d be to create the stability we wanted for that baby. At the end of the class someone prophesied over us that she saw some kind of change coming our way. She said “I don’t know if it’s a job, a car, a house, a baby?….” Josh and I both giggled with tears in our eyes thinking, all of those things God – all of those. In January after much crying out to the Lord we decided we would just start trying for a baby even though we were missing all of those things. We prayed over this child before she was here, we believed we were brought together to leave our legacy.

At the end of February, our very small legacy carrier was on the way. In March we decided to get a new vehicle (although, it was justified at the time to be used for Josh to work an extra job). In June, Josh was blessed with the job he’d been working so hard for. In October we moved into a bigger house JUST in time for a SURPRISE baby GIRL born November 5th. Anaiah is her name and it means “God Answered.”

And God answered it all, the need for a refocus and the bitterness. I have been working in the birth profession for nearly 5 years. Developing my knowledge over the years while witnessing how things do NOT happen the way they should in the hospitals had seriously taken its toll. I’d witnessed more coercion, abuse, and manipulation then I could begin to mention. All towards vulnerable parents who deserve to be respected during a time they will never forget. My work was (and still is) such a huge passion, as it was a mission to change things. As a childbirth educator, birth doula, and lactation educator/counselor, I was extremely focused on changing things as much as I could. Because of this imbalance, the anger that was developing – this drive started competing with my role as a mom, wife, and follower of Christ.

23415185_10210272206583425_3959298861373837751_oNot only was the gender of our baby a huge surprise (pretty much everyone guessed it was a boy besides Pastor Dan), but her birth and my postpartum experience was as well. A planned homebirth resulted in a hospital birth. A determination to breastfeed better this time came crashing down. I spent about the first six weeks of Anaiah’s life wrestling with the fact that a decision I’d made 5 years ago had completely ruined my ability to breastfeed.

When I birthed Anaiah in the hospital it was a pretty hilarious experience from an outsider’s perspective. I was SO tense and ready to fight that I was barking orders with thirty seconds to spare between contractions. I finally relaxed and started being more frank with my communication. For example, when we attempted to express our desire for Josh to help deliver the baby, the nurse said “oh, we don’t do that here. Maybe if I ask the doctor, but probably not.” I nodded as she spoke, smiled, and responded “okay, thank you for telling us all of that but just so you know – we’re probably just going to do what we want to do.” Can you imagine her face? Ha! It turned out that we just began to deliver our baby ourselves with no one else in the room to ensure we got what was so important to us. Josh even snapped a picture of her coming out with both our hands on her head.

As weird as that may sound to most readers, that was a miraculous moment we’ll never forget. Our family, all connected in the miracle of life. So together. I realized that the big mean scary monster the hospital had become was actually none of that to each individual family I help. I learned that it’s actually not that difficult to communicate your desires. And you can even have some fun with it! I no longer needed to carry such a biter burden for all these families. Now I can teach them without fear!

26685212_10210684610613268_2840468400181914057_oThe postpartum experience wasn’t as much of a quick lesson. I could never fully describe the level of guilt I carried. Can you imagine learning your baby was sick and starving and you didn’t even know? And literally because you made an ignorant and selfish choice to take away her nutrition? Weeks and weeks of desperation trying to make milk. Weeks and weeks of mourning a loss that was so incredibly important to me. I likened the emotional expense to some of the most traumatic things I’ve experienced in life. I looked back on the birth and said to myself, if I could pick being able to breastfeed and trade it for a traumatic birth experience – I would. My priorities were totally shifting. Bonding with and nourishing my baby for what could’ve been a year or two (or more!) was realized as WAY more important than a one-time experience together. As I moved through these thoughts and cried and cried every step of the way, my husband was right by my side. He held me tight as I broke into pieces. We’ve never been through something so difficult before. He taught me how much we need each other. It might be safe to assume, I’ve taught him the same. His new job has been difficult, to say the least, and I’ve been right by his side as well.

All these changes, all these blessings, all these lessons. I already knew I needed to value family more, but I didn’t know how. I already knew I didn’t need to harbor bitterness, but I didn’t know how to get rid of it. Welcome, little baby Anaiah. Such a small person carrying such great truths which “God has answered.” Bitterness was built up in fear, fear was the driving force of distraction against focusing on love. God already said, “There is no fear in love, perfect love drives out fear.” 1 John 4:18 Of course, oxytocin lives on as cortisol diminishes and Love wins again.


26756917_10210720229663722_1296659016472475728_oKaren and Josh Brann have been married 18 months. Karen brought two precious girls to their union, Natanya and Mikayla. Their family recently celebrated the birth of a third daughter, Anaiah. Karen has been a childbirth educator, birth doula, and lactation educator/counselor for the last 5 years, helping women and families experience their best birth. Empowering women is part of her life’s biggest purpose now.  She is relentless in giving moms the information she lacked. Not only with HypnoBirthing, but also in how to have a positive hospital birth and how to be successful in breastfeeding.