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…

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*

A Father’s Day Guide

A Father’s [Dad. Daddy. Daddio. Pops.] Day Guide | by Stacy and Lacey Brown

Dad. Daddy. Daddio. Pops. What is it about the love of a father that makes us feel so covered and protected? Similar to how our Heavenly Father unconditionally loves and cares for us, His children, our fathers here on Earth are entrusted with nurturing and New Photoguiding us from the time we’re born, all the way through adulthood. As tiny humans, we typically know our dad as the leader and provider for our household. Dad is the one who teaches you how to ride a bike, start saving your money early, and to not take “no” for an answer when pursuing your dreams. As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to realize that my own dad is not only my biggest fan, but also one of my best friends. A father’s role is all-encompassing and for this, he truly deserves all of the respect and admiration from his family. Proverbs 20:7 tells us,

The righteous who walks in his integrity—blessed are his children after him!”

Yes, and amen! I can certainly attest to the integrity of both my dad and my father-in-law, and feel deeply privileged to have been raised by men of such virtue.

Lace and DadIf you’re like me (Lacey), maybe you’ve struggled with knowing how to honor your dad on Father’s Day. It’s hard when you want to give him something that will let him know how much you appreciate him, while simultaneously being too old for crafts, and having no desire to search for another tie (sigh). Or perhaps you’re like my brilliant mama-in-love, Stacy, who somehow manages to always to give the most amazing, meaningful gifts—usually something that’s way better than what you could have picked out for yourself (#notkidding #sorrynotsorry). As Father’s Day approaches, we thought we’d team up to compile a rather practical “gift guide” for the day in which we let our dads know just how much they mean to us. As we began searching for some of the more “materialistic” gifts, we pondered the way in which we shop for our own dads and/or spouses. How does my husband, dad, grandpa, (you fill in the blank), feel loved and acknowledged?

We couldn’t think of a better way to explore this than by incorporating The 5 Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman. This book provides insight on each of the different languages in which people share/receive love, which include: Physical Touch, Quality Time, Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, and Receiving Gifts. You see, not only are love languages something to examine in terms of your significant other, but they are equally as important in any relationship. The following are some specific examples of ways to bless your dad on Father’s Day.

 

Receiving Gifts [For Dads from young children]

Does your dad or husband share/receive love via gift-giving? Moms, think about giving your child a budget and let them pick whatever they want as a gift for their dad. Note that this is where self-control comes in (☺). The kids know the budget, and they get to pick the gift. Something homemade is always a good idea too! (Macaroni necklaces from 5-year-olds never get old).

Quality Time (For Dads from adult children)

As many parents do, I know my own father receives love by spending some “QT” together. Why not take him to a Padres game or other sporting event? Stacy recently took her father to Spiritivity, a local “paint and sip” art studio, which turned out to be an outing they both thoroughly enjoyed. Not very artsy? How about a homemade picnic on the beach? Moms, maybe you can help facilitate lunch with your teenage child, but let them go alone for some one-on-one time.

Encouraging Words [For Dads from children of any age]

We can’t think of a more sentimental way to express your love than by writing it out for your dad to cherish forever! Creativity is encouraged, but remember, specificity is best with these types of gifts. Try writing out ten things you admire about your dad, or a classic acrostic poem (great for kids). Go the extra mile and frame it for him to keep in his office.

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Acts of Service [For Dads from children of any age]

Who wouldn’t love a getting good book of coupons for chores/errands nobody likes to do? Mow the lawn, get his car’s oil changed, clean the rain gutters, the list could go on. Scratch a few things off your dad’s “honey-do” list. You’d be surprised by how taking care of simple, very practical things can be super helpful— especially for dads who are older. Remember, it’s easy to give this kind of gift, but execution is crucial!

Physical Touch [For Dads from the wifey]

A good foot or shoulder rub for your dad is a nice gesture, but who are we kidding? Moms, it’s all you for this one!

Although many of these ideas seem pretty fundamental, it’s often simple actions that end up having the most significance. We hope this is helpful as you reflect on your relationship with your own dad this Father’s Day!


About the Authors

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Stacy and Lacey Brown are a dynamic mother and daughter-in-law duo, established in 2010, when Lacey married Stacy’s oldest son, Zac. Stacy is wife to her honey of thirty years, Tom Brown, and mama to four children; Zac, Gabe, Jake, and Megan. Lacey and Zac were high school sweeties and married after nearly six years of dating. They reside in Escondido with their fur-child, Charlie Brown.

 

 

 

My Child Would Never…

My Child Would Never… | By Lauren Stark and Chrissy Grissom

A Mother & Daughter Co-Write on their Story. 

Lauren Stark: When I look back on my life some parts seem like a lifetime ago. I’m currently 32, married to an amazing man, I have three beautiful girls and a job that I love. I love Jesus, my church, my family and my friends. I’m genuinely joy-filled and excited about my future, but it wasn’t always like this. I wasn’t always perusing Jesus and going to church. I wasn’t always happy with my life.

I grew up in a Christian home, attended a church my whole life and even went to a Christian school from kindergarten through eighth grade. My parents provided what they could and did their best to raise a Christian kid. But as much as they wanted me to have their Jesus, it was exactly that: their Jesus. I had to come to him on my own and unfortunately that meant walking through some drug problems.

I went to Orange Glen high school from 1999-2003 and tried to fit in and be one of the cool kids. I went to parties and started hanging out with the wrong crowd, desperately trying to fit in and be accepted and wanted. I look back and think “why”? Why did I so seek their approval? I dabbled around with alcohol and I got pregnant right out of high school. 18 and a new mom. When things fell apart with Aliyah’s biological dad, I began a five-year chase to make something work. I needed a husband, I needed to get out of my parents’ house, I needed someone to help me through this way-too-expensive southern California life. I was seeking friendships and relationships to fill the void deep within my heart. A single mother knows loneliness like no other.

Sometimes I drank … a lot. I turned 21 and got a DUI. What a loser! You can only imagine how the enemy played on me. I looked to drugs and more alcohol to satisfy me and they did but only for a moment. The thing is, no matter how high you get you will ALWAYS come down. The biblical principle is true: you reap what you sow; and if you chase after drugs, you will reap destruction. The wages of sin is death! But you’re not thinking in biblical terms when you are using drugs. All you care about is yourself and how you can feel better. Your better judgement is gone entirely.

LaurenI feel lucky with my story since my run with drugs wasn’t that long. I ended up with a broken repentant heart that was met with forgiveness and mercy. Mercy is undeserved favor. Undeserved. I didn’t deserve mercy when I was disobedient to my parents in high school. I didn’t deserve mercy when I had sex before marriage. I didn’t deserve mercy when I wasn’t being the best mom I could be. I didn’t deserve mercy when I was using drugs. But that’s the God I found when I hit my rock bottom, a God of mercy. I wasn’t in trouble, I wasn’t grounded. He didn’t say “Well if you get better then I will let my work on the cross work for you.” He died and forgave me when I was my ugliest. He was whipped while I stole money from my parents. He took a crown of thorns stuck in his head while I took some crystal meth and smoked it in abandoned parking lots. He carried a heavy cross that dug into his bleeding back while I cooked heroine and shot it up.

Oh, the risk I took! But the risk Jesus took! He went to the cross for me but what if I never got to know him? What if I never “got right”? What if I never repented? God took a huge risk on me sending his only son to die on the cross for my drug addiction. Wow! I’m forever grateful he did because I did come to know him. In 2008, I finally hit my rock bottom. I was so broken and humbled that I went home and told my family the truth. I ended up in a Christian rehab in Huntington beach. My life changed. I realized that all I had been missing was my relationship with Jesus. My true daddy, my savior, my restorer of life, my healer and my provider!

Looking back, I see God’s patient love for me. His grace and mercy over my drug deals. Over my shady scary police encounters. It is amazing that all I have are some fractured relationships and embarrassment to clean up. I should be dead, in jail, without my kids Lauren Familybut God spared me. Today I love Jesus with every fiber of my being. I seek him for my approval and acceptance, the God of the universe, the maker of heaven and earth who holds the stars in place knows every detail in my life and his thoughts of me are more numerous than the grains of sand at the beach. What the enemy was trying to kill, steal and destroy all those years the Lord has renewed and traded it with abundant life. I don’t share my story to brag about some dangerous things I’ve done but to boast in my weakness since there the lord has shown his strength.  

Walking with Jesus on “this side” of my story is so much better than before. I can list at least 5-10 people just like that who are struggling with addictions. I know it is hard for parents or loved ones to draw the line between tough love and grace but I will say this: when I was truly sorry and repentant and humbled to my core, my dad showered me with grace and forgiveness like the prodigal daughter I was. He reflected our heavenly father and that’s when I met Jesus.

 

Chrissy Grissom: As parents we often feel our children are an extension of ourselves. When they do good and great things it must be because of our sweet parenting skills. So it stands to reason when they don’t make good decisions, it must be our fault. Did I not love enough? Did I love too much? Not enough discipline? Too much? What did I do wrong?

The hardest thing we a parents witness is our kids making bad choices – knowing what consequences await them. The enemy is out to steal, kill and destroy but I didn’t think he would be after one of my own. Or at least I never thought one of MY kids would EVER do any dangerous drug. MY child? No way.

Pride.

I was in denial. My husband wasn’t. He knew something was way wrong. But he also knew if she ever wanted help and wanted to come home, he would help her. What an awesome example of our heavenly father he was at that time.

Lauren & dadAfter a lot of praying and fasting I came to the realization she isn’t really my daughter, sort of. She is our Lord’s daughter. I had to give her over completely to God. God loves her more than I possible could ever love her. I am so grateful. God is all about redemption and reconciliation. Even though I didn’t know exactly what she was doing at the time, I had a strange peace knowing she is God’s child.

The best day ever came on a cold Sunday morning looking out my window, squinting and seeing…is that Lauren? Walking towards out house? Is that really her?

Thank you Jesus that her time in that world was relatively short lived. I want to say to any parent out there: trust in God. He loves your child more than you do. Fast and pray.

I want to add a warning. I hope you never think (like I did) “My child (young or grown) would never do anything like that.” Or any other harmful thing. Our enemy is good at what he does. But the good news is God is greater.  


Lauren & Crissy

 

Lauren Stark is a happily married mother of three beautiful girls. She works full time at Henson’s Fix Auto. Chris (Chrissy) Grissom is Lauren’s mom. Chrissy also has three children. She is the school secretary at Escondido Christian School, where she has worked for twenty-five years.