April Showers…

April Showers… | By Bethany Luchetta

Ladies, I sit down to write this and tears well up. I have to ask myself where the emotion is coming from?! Haven’t I been processing this forEVER!.

Maybe you can relate to the feeling. Is there that ‘one’ thing in your life that just nags at you. It keeps rearing its head, just to stare you down to win the contest? Big sighs.

I am not sure how much of this journey I have written about in the past, or how long ago it was, or who read it. So, forgive me if you have heard part of this, just skip to the end.

I was born in Manhattan Kansas on December 9, 1980…. Wait, she’s starting from the beginning?! Boring. Ha. My birth announcement says, “Hoping you’ll rejoice with us”. My birth certificate has some particulars on it, birth name, parents, hospital, county, date. You know, the normal stuff.

Flash forward almost ten years. My family was on a camping trip when my parents showed us the wedding ring my dad had given my mom with an inscription of their wedding date; May 30, 1981. Wheels start to turn in my head. I was born in 1980. What’s the deal here? I can take myself back to the moments of what happened next around the fire-pit in Kern County. My parents began to explain how my older sister and I were not my dad’s biological children. My short life and a myriad of questions flashed across my mind without stopping; I was spiraling out of control without moving an inch. Then without control my tears sprang like raindrops from a sudden storm. I don’t recall how I ended up in my tent, but I laid there with snot and tears and unspoken questions pouring. I had felt different, disconnected, and a general sense of loss about something in my life. This news reinforced what I had been feeling with facts.

Messages Image(713973681)I say that there were not many conversations about this situation after this camping trip. As a kid I would say there wasn’t a platform for conversation when I was young. But I as an adult, I now see I was just afraid and insecure about how that would look for my life and I didn’t have the guidance to work those fears out.

Flash forward again another 8 years. I am not certain to this day about how this situation evolved. But I flew with my mom to her high school reunion in Northern California. I had a conversation with my mom about my birth father potentially attending this reunion, and if I wanted to meet him. I vaguely recall being unsure, but willing to pursue the truth about my lineage. As I deplaned (pre-2001), he was standing at the terminal gate exit. I didn’t know what he looked like, or that he would even be at the airport. But, the first thing I heard from this stranger was, “Hello Bethany.” I recall feeling absolute shock. SHOCK. Unwarned, unsure, unprepared, panicked and exposed. I am not sure what happened next. All I remember was disconnecting from myself into some imagination land of self-preservation/protection.

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That weekend passed and I slowly found myself wanting to know more about my family of origin. I began meeting other family members and trying to build relationships. This didn’t go very well for the family back at home. It seemed to put my home on defense and high alert. My dad and mom fought about it, my sisters yelled at me about it, and I felt isolated and alone. These memories could have been one-time events, but they felt permanent and pervasive and always on my mind. This was a very tough season for me.

Years have gone by and my family has encounter ups-and-downs on this subject, blow-outs, highly charged emotional moments and months without talking. I haven’t always been nice about the topic; restless. It’s still not an easy topic for most of my family. There have been lots of things said by different family members and I have struggled in wondering if the birth father I met when I was 18-years-old, was actually really my birth father… or if there was still someone else out there who made me.

Questioning my identity has not been an easy path. Could I have just left ‘good-enough-alone’? Maybe. But I am a truth seeker and I wanted to know about my true heritage – ‘without a doubt’. Since I was young I have struggled with the sense of worthlessness, discard or without value. I’ve done all I can to outperform, perfect, and push my own limits. I used to think it was to get my parents love and attention or maybe to capture Gods acceptance or approval? I am starting to think, it was to capture my own attention; to find love for myself despite how damaged or discarded I felt in my core. I heard that children take the negative that happens in life and project it on themselves as their own fault. The example I heard, if parents get divorced or a loved-one passes, children automatically think “what did I do” or “this is my fault”. I am not sure the essence of this ideology, or psychology, but the gist of it resonated with me. How can I love mySELF if I didn’t see myself as loved for who I was; abandoned.

Last month I asked my bio-dad if he could do a DNA test with me to end my questioning once and for all; start a clean slate and work on the rest internally. He agreed. There are other stories to go along with this that make it more emotional and challenging. I got the results last week.

TO BE CONTINED with next week’s Blog ‘April Showers bring May Flowers’.


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!

 

Coffeehouse Conversations

Coffeehouse Conversations | By Sonya Finley

Hey girl, good morning! Give me a hug. Good to see you. Oh yeah, I already got my coffee. Yes a Venti! Ha ha! You got me out early. I needed something to wake me up. Go on and get yours. I’ll grab us a table outside in the sun.

How am I doing? Me? Girl, I’m fine. Putting one foot in front of the other. Keeping it moving.  You know me, that’s how I roll.

What? Be honest?  Yeah, I hear ya.

So, well, if I am completely honest, I am having a bit of a struggle these days. Oh, you knew that, huh? Okay. Well anyway, for most of my life I have fought with an identity crisis. Whether it was from things spoken into me, experiences that left wounds, or unfairly comparing myself to others—I just never quite felt “enough”. I know who I am now, having gone through an incredible season of God defining my identity and showing who He has called me to be. And yet, and yet. . . .

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And yet, one word of criticism couched in the guise of “mentorship” from a person in authority over me takes me all the way back to feeling inadequate. One word subtly suggesting that a change be made to a core personality trait that will make me more appealing to a minor minority who “doesn’t’ get me”.  It leaves me helpless, defensive and not a little angry. And sister, that is not a good look on me.

So, I began, again, the cycle of questioning myself, my actions, my perspective, my “me”. I began, again, to wonder, is there something wrong with me? Should I change certain things about me to suit someone else’s ideals because maybe they see things from their vantage point that I can’t see? So I began, again, to retreat inside myself. And again, I am lost, struggling to find me, the “who” that I am deep down inside. Sigh….

identityWhat’s that? I am who God says I am? Girl, I have that taped to my bathroom wall as a daily affirmation!  It is there with a list of others and my eye lands on it just when I need it. No greater truth needed and such a timely reminder. I am who God says I am! Regardless of what man says or how he criticizes. I have been created for a purpose and for such a time as this. The “me” that He created, the “me” that I have grown to be, is okay. This doesn’t mean I am perfect. It doesn’t mean I won’t make mistakes, say the wrong thing or be misunderstood. It doesn’t mean that I will always be accepted by everyone I meet. But it does mean that who I am is okay and because of who I am, I am totally useable in God’s plan.

I will probably still struggle with that. Thorn in the flesh and all that, but yeah, you’re right. When the thoughts arise, I can use that statement to remind myself of who I really am. My identity is not dependent on what people think or say about me or even how I feel about myself. I am who God says I am. And that’s that. . .

So how are things with you?

Oh I’m sorry to hear things are not falling into place as you hoped. That can make moving forward or even staying encouraged extremely difficult. I totally get that. Many of us find ourselves right there. It’s the waiting for something to happen and not feeling like it will, that discourages you.

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Yeah, I know that place. Praying and praying for God to intervene in a situation and not seeing it happen as soon as we’d like. It is discouraging and it is easy to lose faith. That’s how it is for me with my son. I have been praying for years through his drug usage, bouts of homelessness, attempted suicides, and brushes with law.  And to me, it seems as though change is coming slowly—oh so slowly. And there are times when something happens and it seems that the situation goes right back to the beginning.  I just want my son to be okay.

But as I sit here with you, thinking on your situation and mine, I am reminded of yet another statement of affirmation on my bathroom wall: God can do what He says He can do.

‘Nuff said! Oh but I know. It gets hard on a sister. All this waiting and anticipating and feeling like the nothing could possibly fix the situation. But hey, just like you told me, when those thoughts began to come, just remind yourself that God can (and will) do just what He said. Keep telling yourself that till it overrides anything else that may want to set up shop in your mind. God’s got this. You just keep living life expecting it.

And yes, my son is doing better these days. But you know us momma’s, we want the best for our children, right?

Oh, you heard about me doing the Freedom Challenge? Yeah. Women joining together to raise money and awareness for human trafficking by climbing mountains. Yes, you heard me, mountains.

You’re amazed I’m doing it? So am I. And if I am being completely honest, I am more than a little afraid. I admit it. I be “scurred”.

What am I scared of?  Not meeting the fundraising goals. Not being able to keep up on with the other ladies. Not being able to complete the challenge.

Oh you got jokes? My bad, you got another quote? I can do all things through Christ?  Wow, another statement from my wall of affirmations! We are three for three!

But you are right. I got this! As long as I look up for my strength and not rely on what I see or feel like—cuz you know a sister can get in her feelings—I can complete this challenge. I will complete this challenge. Any challenge. And when I think I can’t, I will use that statement to remind me that I can.

Well, girl. I gotta get out of here. The boys are wanting to go to a movie. What’s that? Where did I get the statements from?  Beth Moore’s book, Believing God….

God is who He says He is. God can do what He says He can do. I am who God says I am. I can do all things through Christ. God’s Word is alive and active in me.” 
― 
Beth MooreBelieving God

Asian Women Chatting over CoffeeLord, thank you for sister-friends who allow and compel us to be transparent, authentic, and venerable. Bless us to understand the need to reach out for and allow ourselves to receive the love and support being offered to us so that we may know that we are not alone on this journey. As we allow ourselves to reach out and admit our need, send those who will walk with us, stand with us, and pray with us in sisterhood and in love. Amen.


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Sonya 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.

A Relationship Renewed 

A Relationship Renewed | By Terri Krumweide

Difficult relationships can be, well, difficult. When the difficult relationship is with someone you gave birth to, it can be heartbreaking. My son has always been a bit of a challenge. At 11 lbs 11 ounces, he came into this world physically advanced and already more than a handful! I couldn’t keep up with him even then, the kid was just hungry. All. The. Time. I started him on cereal, by the Doctor’s suggestion, at one month. From there, he just seemed to do everything early, roll over, crawl, walk. He even learned to ride a bike without training wheels at 3- I kid you not. Raising a child who is so physically capable, yet not mature enough to control his impulses, was, well you guessed it- difficult.

Lil Ryan and meIn addition to his lack of impulse control, he had to deal with the confusion of being raised separately by two parents with very different discipline styles, a new stepdad, and a new baby sister- not a recipe for success for any kid. I put him in organized sports at age 3, which helped him burn off some of his energy, but my first trip to the principals’ office was his fourth day of kindergarten, and every parent teacher conference was me listening to the teacher tell me how disruptive my son was in class and how all the kids followed his lead. Ritalin was even suggested, which my pediatrician, God bless her, completely rejected. It wasn’t until third grade when he had, which he will still tell you to this day was his favorite teacher, Mr. Peterson, that someone finally understood what my son needed. As I walked into that first conference, head held low waiting to hear the horrors my son had been causing in his class, Mr. Peterson smiled and told me what a good boy my son was and how smart and helpful he was in class. My look of shock made him laugh and when I asked him about him acting up in class he said, “Well if I see Ryan getting a little antsy, I just send him out to run a couple laps on the track and he comes back ready to work.” Eureka!! He had another great teacher the next year, Mr. Mann, but sadly there were many more years of unhappy teachers and trips to the principal’s office, and unfortunately it developed a pattern of me always expecting the worst and constant disappointment, hopelessness and heartache.  And if someone is always expecting the worst of you, it’s pretty easy to deliver.

Teen Ryan and meMy son was not raised in a Christian home. We went to a Catholic church until he was about 14, which does not operate in the grace of God but more on how good you are, which my son was constantly being told by people in authority, he was not. I didn’t get “Saved” until the first time my husband left, and during that time, there was so much pain and so many tears from me and his now 3 sisters’, and that, coupled with the complete devastation of losing the respect of a man he completely looked up to, he found his escape in drugs and alcohol.  Yet another source of great pain and disappointment for a mom that never wanted her children to go down a road she had been down and knew where it led. My goal at that time was pretty much just to get him graduated from high school, which he did, barely, and then he would be on his own and I would not have to be affected by his rebellion and bad choices any longer.

Flash forward to my son as an adult, living back in my house, after several times being kicked out but having just been released from being in jail for five days and having nowhere else to go. There is something about seeing your child ushered into a courtroom in an orange jumpsuit handcuffed to a bunch of scary looking criminals that makes you want to bring them home and keep them safe. I set really strong boundaries, church was mandatory, no drugs, no visitors, get a job, etc and any violation of the rules meant immediate eviction.  At first, he was so compliant and very eager to please, grateful he had a place to live, but as time went on, old behavior patterns kicked in, and he was back in the habit of disappointing and I was in the habit of constantly letting him know it.

Love WorksThen, I signed up for a class at The Father’s House- “Love Works” a program developed and taught by Weyman and Susan Howard, based on 1 Corinthians 13. Compassion is my lowest gifting, so loving other’s well is something I desperately need help with. The first week of class was about patience, first receiving it- I knew my sins had been forgiven but had I ever stopped to think about how patient and long suffering the Lord had been with me in doing that? Had I ever truly received it? As I examined it I was sure of one thing- God never threatened to kick me out of the Kingdom every time I made a mistake, not like I did to my son… Ouch. Next was, kindness, where again we focused on first receiving it from the Lord and then practicing it. I was on my knees constantly for my son and I fiercely loved him, but my thoughts towards him were anything but kind. As we continued into the study, The Lord was softening my heart towards my son and showing me what I needed to let go of “Love doesn’t keep a record of wrongs” Love doesn’t but I sure did and could recite them all back to him at any given moment. When we got to the “Believes All Things, Hopes All Things, Endures All Things” section that’s where The Lord really opened my eyes to what my son needed. When I looked at my son, I saw all the hurt and disappointment of the past, I never saw him how God saw him, I never BELIEVED anything more for him, I had stopped hoping for anything more from him. As I look back and read the things I wrote at that time: “Lord, help me to see my son as you do and to love him like you do, correcting in love.” And “I need to believe that the power of The Holy Spirit can help me to believe good for my son, and to help him resurrect his true identity and be the man God created him to be.” I can assure you that The Lord did. He showed me that Ryan didn’t need to be reminded of all the bad things he’d done, he needed all the goodness in him reaffirmed, and even though he still wasn’t making choices that I necessarily liked or agreed with, I could still operate in love.

My son is a good person with a generous heart, when I looked back on the fights he got into growing up, he was sticking up for the little guy. Although he was never studious and didn’t apply himself in school, my son is really intelligent and learns things easily. Although he could be disrespectful, he is kind and helpful. His physical ability has made him amazing at every sport he’s ever tried. He is great with children; kids and pets love him. It did my momma’s heart so much good to see my son through the eyes of love again. He was more than his mistakes, he was a masterpiece.  God is Love and Love brings renewal. I began treating my son with respect, and I asked for forgiveness when I didn’t, and sure enough, as time went by, the pattern was broken and the relationship was restored. And even when our relationship was tested and we failed sometimes the effort made to love my son well, was truly blessed by The Lord, and I can tell you as I write this, not only has the Lord redeemed my relationship with my son, but He has completely redeemed my son’s life, but that, is a story for another time!


The familyTerri Krumweide lives and works in Escondido. Her greatest achievements in life are her four children, Ryan 31, recently married to the beautiful Alexys, Brianna 28, married to the brilliant Dr Brendan, Miranda, 25 married to the amazing Joey, the proud parents of her adorable first grandbaby, Jeremiah, and her youngest Micaela 21, who is currently away, killing it in college. A couple of her favorite quotes are “Sometimes the greatest thing you can do for the kingdom is not in what you do but in who you raise.” And “There is no greater joy than to know your children are walking in the truth.” All four of her children are amazing servants of God and her constant source of joy is spending time with her family. She also has two golden retrievers, Daisy 5 months and Delilah 5 years, who receive all the nurturing she has to give now that all of her children Daisy and Delilahare out of the house. She spends most of her time walking and pampering her pets, and babysitting the sweetest boy in the whole world, every chance she gets. She also co-leads the ‘Extraordinary Women’ women’s group at church where she loves connecting with the ladies of The Father’s House and friends. She is always looking for new ministry opportunities where she can utilize the gifts The Lord has blessed her with to serve others and to help further the kingdom. If you want to know more- get connected with her- she is always looking to make new friends!

 

Cultivating the Soil

How God cultivated the soil of my life to create Miracles in the Mess | By Sandy Ochoa-West

Cultivate Defined:

To prepare and use (land) for crops or gardening; To till, plow, dig and work the soil

To try to acquire or develop a quality, sentiment, or skill; He cultivated a life of integrity

Gardener Defined:

A person who tends and cultivates a garden as a pastime or for a living.

 

My mom loved gardening and was really good at it. Me on the other hand, well I have pretty much killed every plant I’ve ever had and can’t even manage to grow mint which apparently you can just throw on to the dirt and it grows and takes over everything! With me however, dead in two days!!! I give a whole new meaning to the word black thumb, so the fact that I am writing about tilling the soil, gardening, cultivating etc. is a miracle in itself.

As a young girl I felt always felt like I didn’t fit in, didn’t belong. I grew up as the middle child in a family of 6 kids (I know that explains a lot right) and as a tiny little freckle faced kid I pretty much felt invisible, unnoticed and overlooked. As I look back I realize that even at a young age my life was being tilled and cultivated, but not by the one who created me. The enemy took control as the gardener and starting planting the seeds and cultivating the soil of my life with things like unworthiness, fear and feeling like I didn’t belong.  At about 14 years old, even though I was on Drill team, in Glee Club and the Journalism staff, I felt ugly and out of place. I felt like a weed in a garden of beautiful flowers. It was around that time that I took over as the gardener (remember the whole black thumb thing) and as I started to plant my own seeds in the soil that was already damaged and unhealthy I slowly began to cultivate a life filled with drug addiction, abortion, abusive relationships, depression and suicide attempts. This downward spiral would go on until the age of 30. I’m going to spare you all the ugly messiness I created because my story is really a story of redemption. On August 27, 1995 at a Harvest Crusade, I accepted Jesus into my heart and gave my life over to the Master Gardener. He began to dig up all of the guilt, shame and feelings of unworthiness that the enemy had planted and began to tenderly till the soil with love, grace, mercy, and hope. I was redeemed by the gift of God’s sacrifice on the cross.

The drug addiction had changed my life forever, but Jesus; he changed my life for eternity. I was in bondage to so many things but that day the chains were broken and I walked away a free woman because Jesus loved me enough to pay the ransom for my sin with His own blood, His own life. He accepted me just as I was, but loved me too much to let me stay that way. What Satan used for evil, God used for good. Through God’s redemption and His grace He turned my test into my testimony, my mess into my message, my broken into beautiful and I went from victim to victory.  And today I have the privilege of mentoring young women, teaching them to develop and cultivate a sense of self based on a deep and personal relationship with Jesus, grounded in the Word of God and passionate about sharing the Gospel. I am willing to share the good, the bad and the ugly.

“We loved you so much that we shared with you not only God’s Good News but our own lives too.” 1 Thessalonians 2:8 NLT

“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. 2 Corinthians 1:4 NLT

feature_940x529_cultivate_14-158111Today, I still can’t keep a plant alive (I’m giving succulents a shot at the moment, pray for them), I love weeds more than flowers and I have finally allowed the one who created me to be the Master Gardener.

“God rescued me from the grave, and now my life is filled with light.” Job 33:28 NLT

I would like to share 3 of my writings with you; each relates to my Miracles in the Mess.

The first was written at a workshop at a Youth Winter camp in 2016 where the students were asked to write a letter to their future selves. As I looked around the room I realized that they were all about the age I was when I started using drugs so I decided instead to write a letter to my 14 year old self.  

Letter to My 14-Year-Old-Self :“You took these rags & made me beautiful” (11/2016)

Oh sweet girl, how I wish you knew back then how very much our Heavenly Father loved you.

The pain and the sorrow, the shame and the guilt you endured searching for someone to simply love you for who you are.

The addictions you chased to fill the hole in your heart could have been so easily healed by the one who created you and your beating heart.

It was a God shaped hole that took on many forms but only He could truly fill.

Climb up into His lap & lay your head on His chest. Let your tears pour down for He hears your cries.

You are enough! You’re pretty enough, skinny enough, smart enough, simply enough.

If you only knew how God is going to turn your pain into purpose, your test into you testimony and how He will take you from victim to victory.

In years to come you will be sharing your story of God taking your broken and turning it into beautiful.

How He took the dirty, messy rags of your life and wove them into a beautiful tapestry to cover & comfort those who are hurting.

You will leave the cocoon and become a beautiful butterfly ready to color the world with your story of redemption and deliverance.

You will leave the cocoon and become a beautiful butterfly ready to color the world with your story of redemption and deliverance.

This next writing was written in 2016 around this time of year after I had driven by this field filled with the most beautiful wild flowers (weeds) I had ever seen. God gave me a revelation about myself and “Weeds” was born.

Weeds (2016)

I have decided that my favorite flower isn’t a rose or daffodil or sweet pea. Although I find them beautiful, I am drawn to

and love the weeds found scattered on freeway off-ramps, fields and various other random places. The definition of a weed

is: a wild plant growing where it is not wanted and in competition with cultivated plants. I’ve been thinking about my love of weeds for a few days and today God gave me a revelation as to why they are so dear to me and why I am so drawn to them. They are the overlooked, unwanted and set aside. Some people don’t want them around at all, they are an inconvenience. That is how I felt for so much of my life; unwanted, uncared for, like I was just an inconvenience, like I was existing where I wasn’t wanted with people who were much better or more cultivated than I was. Today I see broken people out there who like weeds are set aside, overlooked and unwanted. They are walking through life feeling as if they don’t matter to anyone, that they are ugly and just an inconvenience. I make eye contact and our hearts speak: why can’t anyone see me, why can’t they see that I matter and have purpose, and I reply “oh sweet and wild weed, there is one who sees, one who cares and one who gave you purpose. He is your creator. Bloom in His presence and the world will finally see that yes you are wild but you are oh so beautiful, oh so worthy and oh so loved.

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Lastly, at the beginning of this year I was asked not only to be a part of TFH Women’s Ministry Team but to also be on the panel of women sharing their testimony at the March Daughters Event. The theme we decided on was “Cultivating What Matters”, Miracles in the Mess. The next morning as I was praying God put this writing on my heart.

 

The Master Gardener

Father, you have planted a new seed in my heart and have tilled the soil of my life with

your tender love, mercy, grace and forgiveness.

Jesus you are the “Sonshine” I needed and through your redemption and deliverance, I’ve become stronger.

Holy Spirit you have watered me with wisdom, discernment and direction and what began as a seed has blossomed into me finally starting to become the Woman of God I was created to be.

When I allowed the enemy to till the soil of my life, only shame, guilt and fear were grown, but Jesus, when I finally

surrendered my life to you, you planted the seed of redemption in soil rich with hope, encouragement, and faith.

Where the enemy saw a weed, unworthy of anything and cast aside by most, you saw me as beautiful;

a treasure, a daughter and worthy of an abundant life.

I am nourished by your unconditional love.

Now, when I see a woman who has allowed the enemy and the world to plant the seeds of discouragement & despair in her life, I know that can take her by the hand and lead her to the one who can give her new life; I can lead her to the Master Gardener.

 

 


Messages Image(3099754613)Sandy Ochoa-West has lived in Southern California her whole life. The beach is her favorite place, it’s where she feels like she can reach out and touch God’s face. She loves reading, her family, connecting with friends and a good strong cup of coffee! She is the mom of two great kids and one son-in love. Robyn (39), her hubby Joseph (34) and Shane (24).  Mentoring women is her passion. She strives to be as real and transparent as possible as she shares her story of redemption and deliverance.