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.

Christmas Traditions & Photos

Christmas Traditions & Photos | A Collaboration from Daughters Blog Readers

 

Dezirae Hesse: Every Christmas Eve before bed my parents would gift my sisters and me a new set of pajamas to wear, and my dad would read “The Night Before Christmas” to us. Then we’d wake up Christmas Day, all of us in our new pajamas (and we’d stay that way until dinner), and open presents! My sisters and I know every word to that book now, and it’s something I can’t wait to carry on into my family.
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Hannah Clements: Snapped a quick pick of kitty in front of the tree. But we don’t own a cat… Poor kitty was meowing outside our door. I opened the door and she came strolling in to check out our Christmas tree. She saw it was already decorated so she said “Meowy Christmas” and left. Now that I think of it, maybe she was just Christmas caroling.

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Kendle Figueroa: We have annual dinner and ‘pick out the annual ornament’ at the Hotel Del. Some people don’t know, but the Hotel Del does a different ornament every year. Picture attached of some of ours.

Girls always getting matching jammies and open. Christmas Eve.

For several years running we did Ding Dong Ditch with the Henson’s. Several families would buy gifts for other needy families. We’d wrap the gifts caravan over to the house. Place the gifts on the door and one kid would ring the bell and they’d all run. It was always an honor to be the kid to ring the bell.

My encouragement; if you don’t have traditions start them (it’s not too late). I have been sick for 4 weeks now and I have gone a little simple of all things Christmas. It’s been interesting to listen to my kids comment and ask if we are still going to do certain things, not complaining but just wanting to do their Christmas traditions. They both asked, “Is Hotel Del happening this year?” Both thanked me for putting up the hot chocolate bar. I created an area where the kids can make their own home drinks hot chocolate, with candy cane sugar, marshmallows, hot cider, Christmas teas and whatnot. There are tons of ideas out there and it made me think I wish I had more traditions in place.

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Miranda Sprague: Christmas was a big deal in our family. Our parents… I mean Santa… put a lot of love into it. From going to see Santa at the fire station where my dad worked, to making our famous Christmas candy, to wearing Christmas jammies, to my parents having to tie my door shut so I wouldn’t sneak out in the middle of the night to see all my amazing thoughtful gifts. Thankful for family and traditions!

Shannon Mulvanny: We open gifts oldest to youngest one at a time until they are all opened, I love seeing someone’s face when they open a gift I picked for them almost more than getting gifts myself.

My mom used to leave a trail of chocolate covered raisins as the reindeer droppings.

We all bring out our favorite appetizer on Christmas Eve and have a pig out fest!

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Barbara Christiansen

Traditional Black Friday shopping (photo Ryan Walsh).

Matching Jammies at Nanny & Poppy’s

Buzz as Santa with Barb and their girls, Tracy (Daugherty) & Stacy (Brown)

Andrea Pinner: Joe, the girls and I have a baking day in December every year where we listen to Christmas music and bake mostly cookies all day. We follow this with driving around to different friends’ houses where we sing carols for them and give them a bag of our baked goodies. I LOVE IT, and look forward to it with great anticipation every year.

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Merry Christmas from the Daughters Blog Team!

Ask yours – kids say the darn’dest things

Ask Yours – Kids Say the Darn’dest Things | Posted by Bethany Luchetta

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So, this is meant to be fun, a little holiday jest! We all love hearing what those precious humans have to say about hard to grasp topics. So, go ahead, ask your kids a question about Christmas, or tell us something they randomly said about the holidays.  Post it on the fB feed below the blog post.

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Livvy Lou Luchetta

I will give some examples of things that have come out of my lil Livvy Lou about the holidays.

We went to a tree lighting and Livvy saw a man dressed like Santa come up on stage. She got really excited and exclaimed, “Mom! God brought Santa back from the dead!” Pure excitement. It reminded me of that scene from the Elf when Buddy heard Santa was going to visit Gimbals, hands clapping and all!

We were talking about Christmas and she declared, “I have Noah in my heart.” Babhaha. Close honey, but the wrong bible character.

In talking about how we celebrate the birth of Jesus, she explained to me, “God had to bring Jesus back from the dead so that I wouldn’t miss him.” I can’t really argue with that methodology.

Livvy asked to sing away in the manger, we have a book that goes along with the song. At the end of the song “…Asleep on the hay” –  she looks at the picture of Jesus and says, “No, he’s not! He’s awake! Mom, let’s change the words to the song.” She proceeds to sing, “Awake on the hay!” in true form.

Okay… Now it’s your turn. Light it up!

Merry Christmas

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A Candid View of the Holidays (Through the Heart of a Single Mother)

A Candid View of the Holidays (Through the Heart of a Single Mother) | Collaboration by Sally Smith & Sonya Finley

Sonya Finley: My memories of being a single mother at Christmastime takes me back to when my own mother was doing it, single with five children. Back then, I am not sure if I understood how she struggled just to survive daily life. But, add to that the pressure of trying to provide us with joy at Christmas, well, now you know who Wonder Woman was modeled after.  There was never “a lot”, yet somehow she managed to make Christmas special and memorable.

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I remember the little 3 foot artificial tree that was the center piece for most of our Christmases. It sat atop a small round end table and was decorated with all the handmade ornaments each of us created at school. At some point it was so covered with our creations you could barely see the tree. Oftentimes presents did not appear under that little tree until Christmas Eve. It turns out a lot of the time that was just when she was able to pull something together, whether from her pocket or various last minute charitable donations.

My mother was the master of innovation. Her creativity during times of struggle created some of our favorite holiday traditions we follow today. For instance, because she could not afford to give us all money to buy presents for all five of us, she instituted the “draw names” tradition. Each child would pull a name and that would be the person they Fotolia_125617063_Subscription_Monthly_M.jpgwould buy a gift for. Our budget, $5. It wasn’t much, but boy would we make it stretch! More often than not, we would have change left over and so would combine it to buy a
special gift for our mother.  Believe it or not, we still do this today! And we have passed it down to our own children. Finding stocking stuffers for five kids was another budget buster, but my mom, true to form, came up with a creative solution for that. Bubble gum machine toys!! Yup! My mom and sometimes my older sister would stand out by the gum machines of whatever store we were shopping at, putting in nickels, quarters, and dimes and pulling out fantastic treats we would later open with childish glee on Christmas Eve. And yes, stockings are still a must have in every household! My oldest sister even sent hers from Georgia one year to be “stuffed”.

I grew up and I too found myself single with children at Christmas. And while loneliness can be an issue—especially when everyone else in your family is married—oddly enough it was not my most pressing concern.  My struggle arose from simply not having enough
to do what I wanted to do for my children. I was barely getting the bills paid and then had to find “extra” to bring a little joy to my sons. Of course, having watched my mom navigate through those rough times with love, laughter, and creativity I was found the strength to do the same. I did what I had to do, I accepted charity (in many different forms)—no matter how humiliated I felt in the process—and believe me, sometimes the processes for receiving charity were humiliating indeed. I vividly remember one year I signed up to be adopted. I sat and went through the long process, hoping to be selected; then only to be given a small bag of four, dollar-tree toys—one for each son. When I questioned it, I was told that since I had nothing, I should be grateful for whatever was given to me. I was so broken. I was so disappointed. I so wanted to do more for my sons. Believe me, it is a most horrible feeling to want to do for your children but then not being able. I do not remember how things worked out that year. I think family pitched in, but I am certain that somehow my sons had gifts they were pleased with. If you ask them, they never had complaints about their Christmases.

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These days I am still single with children but they are all grown and able to do for themselves. Having gained an understanding and appreciation of past struggles, they have grown into young men who are loving and generous in spirit. Our Christmases are not just about the gifts that mom can give (they buy me gifts now!), but about family and keeping alive the traditions passed on to us by a woman who, in spite of circumstances, created the best Christmases EVER!!

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Sally Smith: Ah, the life of the ‘Single Parent’. Many of us ‘Single Parents’ did not start out single and going it alone. We may have had similar beginnings as lots of the intact families that you know and love… I did anyhow. I had the wedding, the baby showers, the family get-togethers and birthday parties. Year after married year, I had that unit, and fell into the rhythm that comes with two parents and… however many kids.

7cfad5efd14a6cf0e567173a5b5f01c4--christmas-card-photos-ideas-for-christmasRegardless of the state of my family, there was a predictable quality that encompassed the preparations and observances during the holidays. I did not know it prior to my leap to singularity, but holidays were designed around the model of that type of unit. During the first few years of being alone and raising kids, the holiday motions were like learning to walk after losing a leg. This dramatic visual is to say that it was painful, confusing, and imbalanced, but necessary in order for me, and for my kids, to move forward.
I am in no way throwing a pity party; I was the one that set the separation into motion, that needed to create the change that split our family apart. Like I mentioned, I did not realize how different our holidays would be, and I would not have done things differently, but I will fully admit that I had to get on board with the big changes that came my way.

You+Will+Survive+This+Christmas+As+A+Single+MomWithout going into sad and embarrassing detail, I will say that several things are drastically different: finances, traditions, and people that you celebrate with are among the biggies. We Single Parents (maybe not all, but some) have to find ways to maximize financial resources during the holidays in order to create as small of a wake as possible. For me, it is not so much to be an extravagant gift giver, but more so that my kids would not have to experience a jarring difference or lack that might elicit concern over my financial state. I have attempted to stretch and make it feel like holidays of old, but always worry that I might not be doing enough.

Obviously, traditions have to change, too. The schedule of the holidays and the family members that are present change. Knowing that my kids would have to adjust to new scenarios, minus me, was worrisome. I felt sad that they might have to incur awkward times, and have difficult conversations. The new normal takes a while to settle in. I am on year-4, and the holidays are finally starting to take on a new, hopeful shape.

Yes, there is hope! Prayers have been answered, hard work has been rewarded, new relationships have been formed, and children are resilient. Love conquers all! I have held fast to my convictions and stayed committed to my Single Parenthood, and through it all, I have been richly blessed. I am constantly reminded that “It is well, it is well with my Soul”.


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…

20170113_074913-1-1Sonya 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 Day for Thanks

A Day for Thanks | By Victoria Gomillion

I would like to start off by saying I absolutely love this time of year! The cool weather, plaid, food, and family is my happy place! I am a high extrovert, so the more people the better. The only idea better than having all of my friends and family living on my street would be if they lived in my house. I love decorating (though I am not the best at it), and I love cooking, and eating. I could write a whole blog on my high, unrealistic, over excited optimism about the holidays, but I would like to share something a little deeper. I want to share why this day is so precious and should be looked at with eyes of excitement instead of dread.

My favorite moment in the day of beautiful chaos, called Thanksgiving, is when everyone shares what they are most thankful for. I love watching people’s “thinking” face as they IMG_3675mentally go through their life trying to categorize the best part. It’s quite humorous. A lifetime of blessings comes down to a five second platform to share something that has made or changed your life forever. How can I name just one thing that is a blessing in my life? Why is it only Thanksgiving Day that we share these deep truths with each other? Why are we not proclaiming all year long, “I am so thankful for my family, friends, food, shelter, freedom”? I’ll tell you why, because sharing what you are thankful for does not mean you have a thankful heart. Believe it or not, there is a huge difference, and that’s what I want to remind us of. When we have a thankful heart it overflows into every aspect of our lives, even the way we think and feel.

Having a thankful heart means we smile with joy and appreciation when we can only afford the lesser quality version of something we really wanted, or when a husband helps out around the house even if it isn’t the way we wanted. A thankful heart means we are truly content with what we have and where we are at, period.

IMG_3840In the Bible, Paul told the Philippians that he had learned the key to happiness and that was contentment in all things. He mentions he knew what it was like to be rich and poor, full and hungry, warm and cold, and at the end it all comes down to contentment. I feel convicted even writing this because of how many times my attitude is anything but thankful. The Bible is full of verses on thanksgiving and the importance of having a thankful heart. Probably because life has a way of throwing a huge pile of poop (aka trials or hardships) on the most perfect of days. Are we going to try and focus on the day we wanted so badly to be perfect, or the stinky poop covering it? Though loving Jesus is easy, following Him is not. We want things our way: perfect, happy, blessed, and stress free. So how do we still enjoy ourselves when things don’t go our way? How do we hold onto contentment with a thankful heart?

I know this holiday season is difficult for many people. Maybe someone you loved passed away around this time of year, and when you look at happy people or laughter all you can remember is how you used to share in that kind of joy with them, and now you will IMG_3956never get that chance again this side of heaven. Maybe you are in such financial hardship that even thinking about buying a turkey or decorations seems like a burden, reminding you of just how poor you are. Or maybe your family is toxic and abusive and this time of year means constant fighting and hurt feelings, covered by fake sentiment and crying in a closet alone. I have experienced all of this so I know how hurtful this time of year can be. What should be “the most wonderful time of the year” can quickly become the most dreaded. It’s one thing to go through the holidays, but it’s a whole different story to try and rejoice about it.

I really, really want to rejoice in hard times and make God look good! He deserves that. After all, He made me, pursued me, saved me, redeemed me, and then empowered me! At the end of the day, no matter how good or bad, if we can remember this I think it’s the first step to a thankful and grateful heart. So, when you feel the frustration rising, the chaos beginning, and the expectation of a perfect day dying; try to take five minutes for yourself and say out loud, “Thank you God for not only my crazy family, some food and shelter, but THANK YOU Jesus for never giving up on me, but instead pursuing me relentlessly because You love me so much.” Reminding yourself of who you are and where you would be without Jesus is a sure way to get back a thankful heart! Let’s do our best to be the bright shining lights God created us to be in a dark world! Let’s be the people that rejoice even when it’s hard, laugh when things go wrong, and have love for those that sometimes make it difficult. Happy Thanksgiving everyone, bring on the fat pants!


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Victoria Gomillion has followed Jesus Christ whole-heartedly since the age of 19. All of her success, fruit, blessings, and life she owes to Him. She fostered a child for two years, was married to her Prince Charming last year, and pregnant a month later. The same month she found out she was pregnant, her first daughter’s adoption was finalized. Victoria has had the blessing of finishing nursing school, leading worship, speaking prophetically, and teaching mentor classes. Her full-time joy is now as a wife and mother.