Love & Tragedy

Love & Tragedy | by Bethany Luchetta

My heart starts to race. I am angry. I let it linger, fester, grow into outright rage. We are human; all susceptible to whims of fleeting emotions. But, where is my trust during tragedy? Do I fire-off political unrest, race induced beliefs, religious anger, conspiracy theories, or lobbyist topics? Where do I put my energy? How can I bring my elevated heart rate back down to a trusting place and learn from what I am feeling? How can I learn about myself from my own thought patterns and feelings? After all, they are my own. I stop to consider this, but I come to the conclusion that it’s easier to banter about someone else’s thoughts and feelings and actions and words, than consider my own. So, I fire off a social media post attempting to relieve myself of my own fear on a public platform hoping for validation. I achieve momentary satisfaction from people who agree with me, but am again quickly angered by those who do not agree. The cycle is addicting because it takes me away from the issue; my own heart.

We are only responsible for our own elevated heart rate that could indicate fear, insecurity or anger in the recesses of our heart and mind. Once we feel this elevated emotion ignite, it gives us the ability to locate where we confide our trust. We can change the world one heart at a time if we begin inside our chest.

170907-st-martin-irma-mn-1140_16097ca5c5bf8814cb38d752367c5636.nbcnews-fp-1240-520Grieving people may take offense to this topic being submitted in the twilight of their loss. I am not writing to hurt anyone, but to offer peace. It takes my breath away in deep sorrow for the three people I know who lost someone last week at the hand of evil. There are people grieving today from the loss of their homes from fires, and still others in dire straights from recent disasters. Every person has a different vantage point. People are passion inspired from original stories of their own. It’s helpful to stop and listen; to build relationships while we are here, where you can. You love me and we bond over our similarities, but we can disagree and yet respect our differences. It’s respect of differences that makes us the same.

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We thank God for the ones who were spared
from fire, flood, and gunshot. We thank God when we are spared. And we should be thankful. I struggle with thinking someone was spared only because they had Faith in God. Many who have faith in God are not spared. The Bible speaks loudly to the fact that those who believe are still exposed. So, yes, be thankful for being spared, and for those spared around you. But we already know those who believe will fall along with those who do not believe. Destruction and death leaves us grieving. It hurts, I am not denying that. It seems so cliché to quote the Bible when people are hurting.

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So, we blame God for those who are not spared
. Have you ever been in a relationship where you were forced to love the other person? Sounds toxic and suffocating, doesn’t it? Not much of a relationship if you ask me. Well, if you believe in God, aren’t you glad you aren’t forced to engage, or agree, with Him? From what was etched about the philosophy of God, we are created to act in ‘Free Will’. A ‘Will’ to believe in Him, or not to believe. We have a capacity for good or evil; for thinking. Case-in-point; people choosing to be evil. We are capable of great and wonderful feats of amazement! Just look into the eyes of your child (if you have one), the proof is right in front of you. It may be too much and you decide there is no God. If you don’t believe in God, you may also be glad no one can force you to believe otherwise. At any rate, you may agree that life is precious. We want to point blame when tragedy happens. History is full of sorrowful, sensual, thoughtful and profound acts created by ‘humankind’, and nature alike. The question may forever be asked, ‘why’? This question may never be answered, or then again, the answer may resonate inside of you. The God I know begs you to ask this question, if not to tear down walls and become vulnerable, maybe to find His heart in an answer to your own soul.

vessels-ministry-the-heart-of-god-lightSo, if God is real, then who serves a God who made a human race capable of horrid things? How can nature destroy senselessly? This is a deep conversation; possibly the one that divides faith, religions and belief systems so severely. Who am I to argue with your conviction? I can only tell you what I believe, you may shake your fist indicating, ‘she’s an ignorant believer’. I am a believer. I am a believer in a God who made my Universe; the Divine. I am not a believer in religion, or church, or a denomination. I am a believer in Love. I believe I was made to love. I believe this little light of mine was made to shine. I believe in a God who loves bigger than I can ever express and who granted us faith to trust that His eternal plan is greater than the temporary physical life we sensationalize (literally experiencing with just our 5 senses). I believe that believers die too; sometimes horrid deaths. God is not here to be a magic potion for our human problems. We can’t pray away the Earth’s pangs. We all are subject to physical decay and death, accidents, misuse, abuse, bad choices and so on. I believe when we trust God, we are able to have a solid knowing that life is eternal. We are here to grow with each other, to experience relationship with other humans; to grow our forever spirit. I believe that when evil takes lives, life doesn’t cease to exist. I believe we are far more than physical beings, we are spirits beings. I believe spirits live forever… And in this truth, I hold my hope and trust.

In moments of heighten emotions during tragedies take note of your own heart, breathe and refocus to the most important thing: souls. Take the time to locate your pain, offer compassion to yourself and others. And most importantly, remember that LOVE is still greater.


IMG_2727Bethany Luchetta is a writer of life and love and tragedy. 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 (13), and Livvy Lou (3). If you see them, reach out and say hi!

First World Problems

First World Problems | by Sally Smith

 
It is a line, drawn over dirt, that creates a division. A line that makes this side the United States, and that side Mexico. What a powerful line that is. We all live by the laws of that line, people die by the laws of that line, and lives are drastically different because of that line, and so many other lines like it. Agencies are created to preserve the laws of divisive nature of that line, to protect one side of the line from the infiltration of the other side… the side of the third world country, where poverty is a major issue, education is inconsistent, sanitation is spotty, law enforcement is corrupt, and frankly, the struggle is real. But I am not here to discuss the pleas of the hungry and the myriad of problems that occur on the other side of that line. I am here to illustrate the unfortunate and ridiculous quality of the fortuitous hoards of people that fall north of the line. I lump myself into that category, as I am not above the silliness; I am sure I do at least 10 things a day that tightly stitch me into that fabric. I am speaking in regards to the “First-World Population”.

It has become a catch phrase; a humorous little saying, “First World Problems”.

Me – “My Amazon Prime does not apply to this order and I will have to pay for shipping!”
My Friend – “Oh, haha, first world problems!”

Me – “My $105 Lululemon pants have been in for free alterations for 2 days! I really want to wear them; when are they going to be done?!”
My Friend – “First world problems, for sure.”

Me – “I really need the new pool key so that I can use the jacuzzi!”
My Friend – “Poor you! First world problems.”

Here are tons of reasons why I do not get to complain about life: I have a car (not just any car, it is an economical, nice looking, newish car, with a keyless ignition, bluetooth, cruise control, and it LIVES in a garage), I have running water (for two bathrooms and one kitchen sink), I have a washer and dryer, a heater, a gas fireplace with ceramic logs, blankets, towels, cupboards full of food, a closet and drawers full of clothes and shoes… All of this because I also am blessed with a good job, platforms for personal growth, and lots of friends and family that provide direction and influence in this here first world. I should never, ever complain. But, inevitably, I do!

binge-eating-full-body-fridge-confession-ecards-someecardsOf course, I have illustrated the humor in this because in this privileged city, inside of this prosperous country, it is a playful way of saying that we know how lucky we truly are, and that we should not lose sight of that. I know full well that the fact that I am buying $105 leggings means that my priorities, such as bills, food, medical, etc… have been paid for. That I have surplus for luxury items with absurd price tags. It is as though the proclamation of humorous fact absolves me from feeling any guilt regarding that line in the dirt, that separates the haves from the have-nots. It makes me feel that my proclivity for nice things has been earned by my hard work. Maybe it has… a little.

i-love-hearing-you-complain-about-the-first-world-problems-you-just-bought-said-no-one-ever--fb593My point is simply this: though it is a funny saying, as it evokes a visual of how outrageous some statements are, I hope that we never grow too comfortable in our “first world”. I hope that we take moments to issue gratitude to the Lord for our comfortable circumstances, for food on the table, for our modern American health. I hope that we consider giving back, and how to give back. I hope we never do forget that there are millions on the other side of the line that is drawn in the dirt, that would cry tears of joy to sleep in my garage, next to my economical, newish car. So when you are having a “first world moment”, and you find yourself grumbling over something that is truly a non-issue in the scheme of things, remember this: “Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” (William Arthur Ward)

Colossians 3:15 –(NIV)15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.


Sally Smith is a 40-something Mother of two daughters, both whom are loving, talented, and independent. Lila, 19, just started her 2nd year at GCU, and Rubi, 13, just began attending the Orange County School of the Arts. When Sally is not busy driving to the train station, to dance, or selling two way radios (no, really, that is her job!), she can be found shakin’ it at Zumba, or cooking/surfing/chilling with her main squeeze. Life is Beautiful…

Table for One

Table for One | by Sonya Finley

I have been single for over 23 years – say what now?! And oh, the stories I could tell – but that, my dear reader, is the subject for another blog.

There are a variety of issues we face every day as single women in the church – raising children alone, managing finances, navigating car repairs, being labeled, ostracized, or even left out.  These issues often have nothing to do with a desire for companionship and/or a physical relationship. However, while there is so much more to living “la vida” single, singles ministries often fall short of providing necessary and practical tools for successful living. Instead we often find that ministries focus on marriage preparation and empowering us with the ability to “just say no” (if you know what I mean). Because of this we often find ourselves feeling uncomfortable, unsatisfied, and ungrateful in our singleness. Subsequently, quite a few of us will spin our wheels, jump through hoops, or “hide ourselves in the Lawd” to find that Godly man that He has prepared just for us.

Single_Ladies_(TV_series)_title_cardBut ladies, what about in the meantime – the time between the hoop jumping and the actual fulfillment of God’s promise to you? How will you approach this stage in which you find yourself?  Don’t have a clue? Do not worry! I offer you ten practical things you can do to live a gratifying life while you just happen to be single (after 23 years, I should, right?).

  1. Accept your situation. You’re single. You are not married. You may not get married in the near future, and there is the possibility you may not get married at all. This may not be the life you dreamt of, but it is the life you have been blessed with. And what a blessing it is – if you pay attention. Tough love coming at you: Spending an excessive amount of time reflecting on past relationships or visualizing your future husband is a subtle form of denial, and an outright refusal to deal with where you are right now. You are single. Deal with it. Press into it. You will find you are right where you need to be.
  2. Be honest about your feelings. Of course, if you are not yet content being single, say that. I give you permission. If you are harboring bitterness or anger because of your situation, admit to it. This is important. We cannot be healed and cannot align ourselves to our situation if we don’t truly admit where we are. If you are not feeling the single life, that’s okay – just don’t stay there. Admit your need and allow God to move on your behalf. Admission brings about the changes needed to walk in freedom.INB-table-plate-FPO
  3. Let go of the fear of being alone. I don’t need to remind you that the Bible speaks against fear. Fear is not of God. Fear is a dangerous thing. Fear will make you allow anything into your life just to have a man. Women with fear stay in bad relationships because “a bad man is better than no man and doing it alone.”  Fear will keep you from realizing what God has in store for you. Trust God’s plan in your life, even if that means being by yourself for a time. You will be okay.
  4. Get a social life – one that does not revolve around service to the church. Yeah, that is what I said. Be honest. Do you have something to do or people to hang out with when nothing has been planned by your local church? No? Well, you should. How many times have you sat at home alone and lonely because nothing was going on at church. Get out and have some fun, gurl! Call a friend from work and go hang out. No friends? Take a Latin dance class or join a Meet-Up group with people of like interests. Fill your life with laughter, fun and friends, and you’ll be surprised how good you feel being single.4
  5. Do not fall for the “Okey Doke”. You are single, and to some, that may be a negative – a shortcoming of sorts. Without meaning to, folks will define you by their negative (or pity filled) reaction to your lack of or desire for a companion, and you may find yourself falling into agreement with their assessment (the Sunken Place). Do not accept the negative labels. Do not be defined by your situation. That is not who you are. Singleness is just your current state, and gurl, it is by no means cause for pity.
  6. Take care of you. Do I really need to spell this out? Do for yourself. Make time for you. And don’t give me excuses about having kids – I raised four, with a job – sometimes two! Although I learned the hard way, I did learn the importance of making time to do for me. I used to take what I called “artist dates” and my sons were trained to understand and respect mommy’s time. That time spent doing something just for me made me feel refreshed, rejuvenated, and re-centered. It empowered me to be the best version of myself and to find beauty and appreciate the life I had.
  7. Stop waiting! Yeah, you over there waiting to start living for when you finally get a man and finally get married. Don’t! Get a move on it. What are you waiting on? And please do not recite the scripture about “waiting on the Lord”. I am pretty sure you sitting around letting life pass you by is not what God had in mind when He inspired that scripture. NOW is the time to do something – anything – that keeps you actively involved in your life.note-to-self-you-gotta-do-this-for-you-this-16404756
  8. Always look your best – from the inside out. (The Fashionista’s words to live by!) Getting your attitude in line will give you a beautiful glow that moves past all the surface stuff. This does not mean you should neglect your outer appearance. Be fierce! Not for the men you think it will attract, but for your own self confidence.
  9. Get your finances together – Now! Don’t wait for a man to come along and rescue you from your debt. Make steps today to get financially secure.
  10. “To thine ownself be true.”  Honor yourself. Do not allow yourself to be belittled or dismissed because you are single. Know what God says about you and walk in that.

No worries, gurl. You got this.

 


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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.

Mom, You’re a Heifer!

Profound Motherhood | By Denise McAndrews

I don’t know if this ever happens to you: you have a profound thought but it’s not convenient to write it down and later you only remember that you had an amazing epiphany but not the details. This happened to me one morning last spring.

Several days later, I asked God to help me remember the understanding He had given me. (The older I get, the more I rely on John 14:26; God’s promise to remind me). While I was asking God to help me remember, I grabbed some cheese from my lunch box and there, written on the package, was a note from God saying:

“All cows are moms! Before they have a calf, they are called heifers.”

I just about jumped out of my seat! I wonder, since God owns all the cattle on the hills, was He there (in the corner, kind of snickering) when the package was printed? Clearly, He planned to put it in my hands.

Now that might not sound like much to you. But, in one sentence, that package encapsulated what God had downloaded into my heart about Mothers days prior. In fact, I was so excited about the phrase, and so touched by God’s reminder, I told almost everyone I met that week! And, that’s when I was asked to write something for this blog.

Now, I feel I need to qualify what I am about to say or at least brace you for something that may either require evidence or be overly simplistic. Take it as you may. But, don’t take it until you pray. God may show you something amazing and simple even if He has to write it on a package of cheese for you.

What’s in a Name?

When you became a mother, you were given a new name; you were given the name, “Mom.” This is Mom with a capital “M.” And, like in marriage or when you became a Christian, a new name implies a new identity. Your name and personal identity go hand-in-hand. And, once you became a mother, at least one person was destined to call you “Mom.” (Yes, I am using the cow analogy. You love the cheese-package story now, right?)

There are important distinctions about names that sometimes get muddled up with the roles we play. “Mom” as a name, is not an additional role like sister, student, employee, child, or even wife. The difference between roles of a mom and the name Mom are easily misconstrued because many people perform the roles of a mom. In fact, you can be Mom and “a mom” to someone. It is when there is no Mom, that the role of mom is so valuable.

To embrace Mom as an identity means to realize that mom-ness permeates your every fiber. To fulfill the role of mom implies a portion of your life or time or effort. Roles may be temporary. Mom is not. Becoming Mom changes you.

Not only does the word “Mom” identify who you are but it has the power to define what a mother is to your child. Since you are Mom to your child, you are your child’s definition of a mom. It is something like a math equation: to your child, you are Mom (You = Mom). Therefore, Mom equals You to your child. Make no mistake, to your child, you are “Mom.” It is who you are from the moment you became Mom. And, you are always Mom to your child even apart from age and life.

Many times, young mothers (and older ones too) struggle with identity issues. To be Mom, the things you used to do with your time and money are often exchanged for other things because you are Mom. (Not to mention your body no longer looks or feels like it’s yours.) Becoming Mom doesn’t mean you are required to give up all other identities. Yet, there are times when the new identity can feel like an unfair trade and even a sacrifice. This part doesn’t last forever.

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Denise with Tom, her hubby (and love since Middle School), and their dog Lili

Whenever God calls for a sacrifice, the return from Him is always far greater. Our best example of this is God’s love for the world that is so great that He gave His only Son so that anyone who believes in Him will have everlasting life. The return for this is incomprehensible. And, while I can’t say the sacrifices you make to be Mom feel like that type of a return, the return can be amazing!

When my children were young, I thought about the sacrifices I made to be Mom. Now that my children are older, and have children of their own, I can’t picture myself not being their Mom. There is no sacrifice too great compared to the gain I received in exchange for being Mom.

Your identity as Mom has the powerful potential to envelop you and wrap itself into the fabric of your very being. It is significant, impactful, and lasting. Without embracing it as an identity, you will miss the very blessing God intended it to be.

Here’s a bit of trivia: The moons of other planets have names other than “moon.” But, the name of the moon that orbits the Earth is “Moon.” (Now we have a cow and a moon story! I see a theme here.)

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Denise with her best friend of 30 years, Mary Fletcher

It’s clear that this issue of identity is mysterious and that sometimes, it doesn’t manifest as deep, sacrificial love. Selfish desires or seeking to protect ourselves from rejection cause us to avoid love. But, only love protects. To get a Mother’s (or Father’s) heart, we must move towards love or at least lean into it until we can shift our weight completely so that we are standing firmly, secure in our decision to love no matter what. This is what God desires of us.

So often we don’t love deeply because we don’t know we are loved deeply by God. We need to ask God to help us know and remember His love for us. In that, we can overcome hurt and be free to love others and not count the sacrifice as a cost greater than the returns.


Denise is a mom, a Grammy (and a Mimi). She is a sister, a daughter, a wife, a friend, a co-worker, and a lover of Jesus Christ. Little fun fact (posted by her daughter Bethany) Denise was co-founder of the original Classical Academy (yes, THE Classical Academy). She homeschooled her three children and loves educating.

 

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Denise with her own Mother

 

My Messy Life – I Wrote My Own Eulogy

My Messy Life – I Wrote My Own Eulogy | By Jamie Humphrey

I received an email from one of our close friends:

Jamie, Eli – I wanted to share this with you.  One of the group exercises yesterday for these 9 entrepreneurs (whom we are getting to know each other very well) was to write your own obituary or eulogy. We only had 8 minutes. So off the cuff, from the heart, etc.

 Not one person (all whom are in the grind of business growth and have the appearance of wild success) wrote about their business. Or long days at the office. Or winning that big deal.

 Faith. Legacy. Impact. Others. Perspective! What matters!  A reflection and exercise that has left a strong impression on me; likely to lead to some corrective measures.

 I appreciate you guys! Much love.

 

I thought I would try this exercise. I took about 15 minutes and went to work writing my own eulogy. Here is the result:

Jamie Beth Humphrey. Born on April 17th, 1981 which happened to be Good Friday that year. Her dad told her growing up that her hand entered the world first. She couldn’t wait to wave to everyone. It wasn’t enough for Jamie that her eyes would see everyone. She wanted them to know she saw them. Her childhood was simple and uncomplicated. Quiet, shy and sweet she had no problem playing for hours with baby dolls and her play tea set. She did not require much attention yet her blue eyes didn’t miss much including the emotions and moods of people around her. They say the quiet ones are the most observant. Jamie learned to read people and feel empathy for them. This helped her to connect quickly with anyone she came in contact with.

Quirky, funny and highly emotional Jamie felt every emotion there is to feel…daily. She lived her life in 2 settings: passionate and asleep. If she had a lack of sleep life became overwhelming. Sleep was the respite her soul needed to stop feeling all the emotions of the world around her.

Jamie loved her God with her whole heart. The realness of her relationship with God and his son Jesus was at the center of who she was. Religion was of no interest to Jamie. The rituals and requirements of modern Christianity did nothing for her passion. A communion with a sovereign God who was the creator of all was her desire. Her God defined love.

14370245_10154182734987655_2442852081781507332_nJamie loved one man, Eli. Meeting him was the beginning and the end. All at once her heart was awakened, stolen and completed forever. Her love for Eli was fierce and filled with fiery emotion and passion. If they weren’t loving they were fighting. The intensity of their passion never waned. She loved once. She loved with her mind, body and spirit. Her soul mate was Eli.

Jamie mothered Serenity Grace and Justice Michael. Serenity changed Jamie’s life for good and for certain. Nothing prepared her for motherhood. It was overwhelming and unbearable at times. For someone who felt every emotion and lived life so awake she 10399545_66467843176_5945_nwas caught off guard at the magnitude of what it meant to be a mom. This angel baby in her perfection was handed to a mere human who hadn’t the slightest clue how to even diaper the baby. Eli gave Jamie the most profound mothering advice she ever received. He told her one day as she cried hot floods of post partum tears, “Just smile at her, Jamie. You want her to remember your face with a smile on it…” so she smiled. She failed and she succeeded as a mom but the important thing is she tried. Her kids will never say she was a perfect mom. She had flaws and insecurities but they will say without hesitation that she loved them with her whole heart. Justice came when Jamie needed him most. On the day of Luke’s funeral, who was Jamie’s brother, She learned she was expecting a baby. When Jamie heard it was a boy her tears streamed down her face with equal fear and relief. Justice brought a joy and reassured the entire family’s hearts that it is always better to love even if the love is lost.

Jamie could list the many people that influenced her life. Her friends were loyal. Her friends were plenty. Jamie’s definition of a friend is someone she knew and shared a 14589710_1089051754544281_8155046629113959811_omutual bond of affection with. She didn’t hold any relationships too tight with demands and expectations on people’s time or attention. Life has a way of switching directions and paths cross for a reason. Jamie valued the people in her life and allowed for her time spent to ebb and flow with the seasons. That being said her friends weren’t replaceable. There are sayings like, “whether it is for forever or a season God brings people into your life for a reason…” She treated relationships as part of God’s plan for her life. Relationships were her daily motivation and drive.

Now with Jamie’s life on earth completed there are not lists of accomplishments that will reach Wikipedia. You won’t see her picture or read about her life in history books. But to those who knew her they will remember that they were seen.

17990543_10154551125623177_8776287840360486254_oShe lived, she laughed, she loved and she left.

Now it is your turn. Write your eulogy. It can refocus your attention on what really matters and what you want to be remembered for. A lot of this life is just noise. Let us all look with hope to eternity.


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Jamie Humphrey aka “Messy Bessy” is a recovering perfectionist that is learning to let go of the temporary. Purpose is more important than perfection. And messes are temporary. *Repeat 10 Times*