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

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

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

Who’d a thunk. . .?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who’d a thunk indeed…

A Freedom Challenge hiker, that’s


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

Summer Lovin’

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

 


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

The Man, the Myth, The Legend

The Man, the Myth, The Legend | By Bethany Luchetta

Father’s Day is this weekend. Our blog community chose the theme for June to be ‘Summer Love’. I know it’s supposed to be about the things we love, and not the people we love.  But I want to take some time and write about the things I love about the Father to my daughters for Fathers’ Day. My hope: You would take some time this week and also write to the Father of your children.

Disclaimer: With the understanding that Fathers Day can be tough, and so are the intricacies of relationships, this blog may not apply to you for a myriad of reasons. We try to apply blogs to everyone across the board, but sometimes the shoe doesn’t fit every time.

 

Today I will gush about Vincent John Luchetta. Who? Haha… We’ve been married now for over 7 years and it hasn’t always been okay. Today is okay, and is in the process of growth, which I hope continues forever. He had two beautiful daughters and another life before me. Vince and I met when he was ‘separated’ from his wife. Vince lived on the road with Jimmy Buffet and got lost in the touring roadie life. In 2010, a year after we met, we got married, it was a rough start to turbulent skies. It wasn’t until our own marriage tanked in the summer of 2012 that we both decided we didn’t want to have another divorce on our hands. This meant that we both had to face our pain, each look into our own soul and figure out how to clean house. Vince has taken this path to a whole new level. He isn’t the man I married, God took a few bones and made a new man. I am forever thankful for Vince’s determination to himself, his daughters, and me!

A few fun (mostly) unknown facts about Vince. He was in the Navy for 4 years. He has been a Sound Engineer at Sound Image for 10 years. He has Deuteronomy 6:4-6 tattooed on his forearm. He owned his own communications business. He went to Seminary.  He was a youth pastor and helped physically build a church. He found his love of ‘sound’ putting on concerts for his youth group. He went to Sound Engineer school in Arizona and worked at a club and a church while going to school. He graduated from Palomar College the year Livvy was born as an Honor Student. He worked part time after Livvy was born so he could stay home with her part-time until she was one years old. His first born is Makayla, who just graduated High School. His second born, Paige, is currently Rodeo Princess. And his surprise child, Livvy Lou, just turned 4 years old. He is currently starting a company called “Eat it Up’ as an urban personal farm-to-table Chef.

 

Vince,

I want to take this Father’s Day and tell you, “I am proud to be your wife”. You have embraced community and vulnerability. You have journeyed into your wilderness and explored your own hurts and fractured parts, and you have owned your part in many wrongs. You have stayed long into friendships where you may have given up in the past. I have seen you eat humble pie with people  you know, and even strangers. From harsh words to kindness; you are quick to apologize and repent. I actually cannot recall the last time I heard a harsh word from your mouth. You never gossip or backbite. You recognize when you’ve been disconnected and always come back and work on the hard task of being authentic and intimate with your important relationships. I’ve watched you lower your shield and open your heart to many things that used to scare you; spirituality, meekness, and openness. You have set on the path to search below the surface and inspect the health of your own roots. You are working diligently on finding forgiveness for things not-so-easy to cut loose. I am inspired by your desire to work alongside other Godly men to grow-up and have broad shoulders for your children and your wife (me). As you call it, coming home so we can plug into you. You always ask me how I am doing, what I am feeling, and even though I hate those questions, you really do want to know. You push to wake early and fill yourself in the mornings with inspiration. I see you reading to grow, listening to learn, and speaking to understand.

You make your daughter breakfast and pack her lunch every day. I hear you praying for her and singing to her when you lay her down for bed. You answer her softly and compassionately. You do our laundry, take out the trash, and do the grocery shopping. You work diligently in being a sounding board for your older girls; which isn’t easy since they are so far away. You never control, guilt, manipulate, or try and ‘fix’. You are so patient. You are a giver, a tither, a provider. You work harder than any man I have ever known, and never complain. You embrace the challenges your work puts before you. You’ve even reached out to be a mentor and friend to many of the guys you work with; you’re a respected leader and friend to them. You’re a confidant to many of our friends. You always show yourself friendly and kind and teach your children to do the same (like always asking the waitress or waiter’s name so you can call them by first name, even if we never see them again). You are stronger and kinder than this Alpha Female running alongside you. You let me be me, even when I am still figuring out who that is!

I’ve watched you confront tough conversations with a new grace, judge less and breathe more. Even lately digging deep into your own expectations and searching for proper motivation and realistic goals. You’re facing the pain of rejection and fear. You are allowing your anger to soften into sadness and making the choice to grow through it.

Have I told you that you’re an amazing chef!? You have taken your new endeavor of personal chef to a new level of greatness. You think I am bias, and I may be a tinge, but your food is amazing. Mr. 5-star review! You are my new “slashy” man. Sound Engineer / Personal Chef. You are both, and much more!

I can go on and on… Vince, I love you. Happy Father’s Day.


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

 

 

 

 

April showers bring May flowers…

April showers bring May flowers | By Bethany Sousa

For me, Springtime has typically been associated with the word refreshing and newness in my mind through the years. Probably because I automatically picture fresh tulips on my parents dining table growing up as a child. With Mother’s Day still on my mind, I find myself reflecting on all the mothers that have been in, and around, my life so far. All the wonderful jewels they have each placed in my crown of feminine identity and social womanhood. What a crown they have built for me, and I get to wear it proudly every day!

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79ideas.org Photo Credit

However, it wasn’t always so simple and easy for me to receive such wisdom with grace and understanding. Along with refreshing and newness, Spring also brings maturity. Now there’s a word I probably would’ve never associated with Spring prior to today – maturity. For all those women who have poured such wisdom into my life, I had no idea they were instilling a mature femininity into the way I would live my life out.

It’s quite fascinating for me to look back and recall all the “ah-ha” moments of gaining a new perspective, or patiently working out the painful moments of maturing. One of the greatest words of wisdom I gained from a woman in my mid 20’s was about how sometimes the harvest of God’s promise takes us through the long way around, similar to the Israelites. Now that was a very loose translation, but I’m sure you get the idea. They had to “work out their faith” so to speak, for many years before being able to receive the fullness of the promise land. Time for me, meant waiting on the Lord in His non-linear timing. For example, waiting on the Lord to fulfill a prophetic word, or a dream, or even a desire that weighs heavy on the heart. Well, I was all of these examples! Finding myself questioning His involvement at times, and even asking was He even involved anymore or did He skip out on me for a little? It was quite the opposite!

He graciously asked me one day what Spring meant to me and what I saw when I thought of it. My response was a field of flowers, similar to the Carlsbad field of flowers. What He spoke next blew my immature mentality out into a maturity I had no idea I was in need of. He showed me a picture of small little sprouts budding out of rich soil. Rows and rows of sprouts. Then He said, “Bethany, this is Spring. Behold, I will make all things new. You have plowed and worked the field, look and see that I am good. Spring isn’t always a time of reaping abundance. It is also a time of new beginnings and starting over”. I felt such a freedom from an old way of thinking. No longer did I have to pressure myself with an expectation of having to see a full field of harvest, but now I can rejoice in the simplest of refreshing and newness that the Lord is working out through me!

Featured Image Photo Credit: OgNature.org

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cityuniversity.ca Photo Credit


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.

 

…Bring May Flowers

Last week I left off with the following in my ‘April Showers…’ Blog.

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.


April Showers Bring May Flowers | By Bethany Luchetta

99.9999 positive match. Chad Barkley is my father. I smiled. I sighed and I teared up. I emailed the results to my father and his replied brought tears pouring from my eyes, ‘Welcome to the Family, babygirl!’ My mom said he only met me twice; at one month and then again when I was 3 years old, as he drove through Kansas. I felt like when he said “Welcome to the Family, babygirl” it was as if I was hearing that for the first time, and maybe I was. My soul needed that; to be welcomed by him, accepted, valued as a new member of the family, wanted and loved.

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I’ve been thinking on all these details for a very long time. And there is an essence of knowing the truth that puts my body to ease. But that is just part of the journey. The other part of the journey is obtaining an unconditional knowing that I am truly loved and accepted, created and woven together by a Magnificent God. Here’s the kicker folks: I could be loved and accepted and admired, cherished by every human on the planet, but if I do not know my identity in the Creator, then I am only partially found.

IMG_0466This year I had been chewing on the reality of going the distance with the DNA test, I started wavering immensely in my relationship with God. If you were at the last women’s event, Cultivating What Matters, Miracles in the Mess, you may have saw my tearful outburst when Tracy was praying for me. I had this DNA test pending and then my landlord said he wanted to sell our home. Vince and I decided we would pray and fast a week and try and get unified direction; move-out or buy the house. Here is where the cracks in my relationship with God surfaced. By the end of the week I sat in the living room, Livvy sound asleep in her room, and Vince at my side. Neither one of us had a set direction of what to do next. I first thought; God sucks. He is never there when I need Him. Isn’t He supposed to answer our questions, hear our cry? Isn’t He supposed to be our ‘very present help’!? He is never there! He is a liar. He always leaves me. He’s rejected and abandoned me again.

My rant went on-and-on as Vince listened to my words, thoughts, and feelings towards God. Vince calmly said, “Did you expect God to come hold-your-hand and show you what to do?!” Without a doubt that is what I wanted, expected, needed! “Yes”, I retorted. “God doesn’t need you Bethany. He doesn’t need you to be anything, but you. He is God, you don’t fill a need by being what He wants you to be, or how He wants you to be. He values and approves you, as you. Nothing else. He doesn’t need you.” REVELATION. I may have cussed God out at this point. As my rant continued, I realized all this anger was towards my earthly fathers. I was projecting the anger I had towards my fathers onto the God of the Universe.

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Road trip photo going to Fresno for DNA test

I was angry with God. But surprisingly after I quieted, I felt a calmness come over me that reassured me, ‘Now we can start fresh. Now that you are being honest, we can have a relationship based on truth’. I still wasn’t happy, and as I put it, God and I weren’t on talking terms. I was going into my own ‘unknown’.

The next few days people wanted to assure me by stating who I was to God. Apple of His Eye. Victorious. Wonderfully Created. The Daughter of the King… But this couldn’t resonate. I realized my problem. If I saw God as unfair. God abandons His children to destitution. If I kept projecting the fathers of this world onto the God of the Universe, Love Himself, I would never understand Him. In return, I couldn’t see myself as valuable or worthwhile. Here started my work. I had to find out who God was. Who is this God I have been ‘believing-in’ for the sum of my life? Where have I gone wrong? So, I started exploring what the Bible says about His character. I only chose the ones I needed to hear. I made a list. It was long, and each attribute spoke to the places of hurt in my own heart.

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This is my own work. We all have to take our April Showers and find the May Flowers. Because there are also weeds in May, barren lands, and dry bones. It is our job to find the way out of the darkness. Thankfully we have access to loving community of friends, mentors, and a Faithful God who will reveal truth to our heart when we need it the most. I am grateful for this journey. I am not through it; it will be my life’s work. But I am happy now to be doing the work. I want to learn the strategy and apply it, even when it’s painful. I want to grow, become wise, and know Gods abiding validation, truth, love and acceptance. Maybe you do too?!

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Road trip photo coming home from Fresno for my DNA test

 

I leave you with two writings that are not my own. One is for May Flowers, and the other came to me during this journey. They may add something to your own journey:

May 1 “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young

You are on the path of My choosing. There is no randomness about your life. Here and Now comprise the coordinates of your daily life. Most people let their moments slip through their fingers, half-lived. They avoid the present by worrying about the future or longing for a better time and place. They forget that they are creatures who are subject to the limitations of time and space. They forget their Creator, who walks with them only in the present.

Every moment is alive with My Glorious Presence, to those whose hearts are intimately connected with Mine. As you give yourself more and more to a life of constant communion with Me, you will find that you simply have not time for worry. Thus, you are freed to let My Spirit direct your steps, enabling you to walk along the path of Peace. (Luke 12:25-26 English Standard Version)

 

A Parable: The Prisoner in The Dark Cave “Healing the Shame that Binds You” by John Bradshaw

There once was a man who was sentenced to die. He was blindfolded and put in a pitch-dark cave. The cave was 100 yards by 100 yards. He was told that there was a way out of the cave, and if he could find it, he was a free man.

After a rock was secured at the entrance of the cave, the prisoner was allowed to take his blindfold off and roam freely in the darkness. He was to be fed only bread and water for the first 30 days and nothing thereafter. The bread and water were lowered from a small hole in the roof at the south end of the cave. The ceiling was about 18 feet high. The opening was about one foot in diameter. The prisoner could see a faint light up above, but no light came into the cave.

As the prisoner roamed and crawled around the cave, he bumped into rocks. Some were rather large. He thought that if he could build a mound of rocks and dirt that was high enough, he could reach the opening and enlarge it enough to crawl through and escape. Since he was 5’9″, and his reach was two feet, the mound had to be at least 10 feet high.

So the prisoner spent his waking hours picking up rocks and digging up dirt. At the end of two weeks, he had built a mound of about six feet. He thought that if he could duplicate that in the next two weeks, he could make it before his food ran out. But as he had already used most of the rocks in the cave, he had to dig harder and harder. He had to do the digging with his bare hands. After a month had passed, the mound was nine and half feet high and he could almost reach the opening if he jumped. He was almost exhausted and extremely weak.

One day just as he thought he could touch the opening, he fell. He was simply too weak to get up, and in two days he died. His captors came to get his body. They rolled away the huge rock that covered the entrance. As the light flooded into the cave, it illuminated an opening in the wall of the cave about three feet in circumference.

The opening was the opening to a tunnel which led to the other side of the mountain. This was the passage to freedom the prisoner had been told about. It was in the south wall directly under the opening in the ceiling. All the prisoner would have had to do was crawl about 200 feet and he would have found freedom. He had so completely focused on the opening of light that it never occurred to him to look for freedom in the darkness. Liberation was there all the time right next to the mound he was building, but it was in the darkness.


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!