April Showers 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!

 

 

Coffeehouse Conversations

Coffeehouse Conversations | By Sonya Finley

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

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

What? Be honest?  Yeah, I hear ya.

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

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

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

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

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

So how are things with you?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

The Power of Saying Yes

March Madness – The Power of Saying Yes | By Sonya Finley

As women we can all attest to a certain amount of crazy in our lives. It comes naturally from all the things we find ourselves doing. Growing up, growing older, raising children, caring for parents, working a job, building a business, embracing our singleness, embracing a relationship –*whew*, we have a lot going on in any given season. Most of time, we have enough to juggle just from living a woman’s kind of life. Why on earth would we add something else? Why would we say yes to more? Where is the wisdom in all of that?


Yeah, tell me about it. Have you seen my life?

For me, any given season of my life can be described as chaotic in the most normal of times. Heck, I am a woman (now of a certain age dealing with all that change–yeah, y’all know what I am talking about), I raised four, now adult, men—2 of which still reside at home. I have always worked–full time and/or part time and sometimes more than one job (I’ve worked up to 3 at one time).  I have also been known to pursue educational goals, participate in ministry, and lend a bit of creativity to projects here and there (all while raising four sons!). I have done a lot, I do a lot, and a lot do me.

Adding a different kind of madness. . .

I admit it, there are a lot of things I am pretty good at, but I am usually not that person who will insert myself into a situation to use or showcase my “special” skills. I have never felt that was necessary. I am a firm believer in Proverbs 18:16, “A man’s gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before great men.” So while I may not seek out a special spot on the team, I will say yes to “divine” appointments/requests for the very reason the scripture indicates. It is because of that thinking I find myself where I am, with quite a lot on my plate and saying yes to adding more.

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Quite a bit more in fact. . .

I have begun saying yes—and saying it in a big way! I said yes to stretching myself physically, committing to keep moving down a path that would find me completing a half marathon on my feet. I said yes to a unique kind of ministry with a defined message and yes to the opportunities it presented. I said yes to building a business that is, let’s face it, so me. And in saying yes, this business has not only brought in much needed income, but it has allowed me to minister and connect to women in a very unique and profound way. I said yes, much to my surprise, to participating in the Freedom Challenge (a hiking event that raises funds and awareness to fight human trafficking). I will be participating not only as a ministry leader but as a hiker and a fund raiser as well. If you know anything about me, you know all of those items bring quite a bit of “opportunities for stretching”.

Sounds like a lot of additional stuff, right?

It is a lot. It is a lot on many different levels. Nevertheless, I am learning that God’s math is not ours. We think more is just more—more trouble, more concerns, more stuff. What He adds to us does not multiply our troubles or add to the weight we carry in the way our ordinary minds think it would. That idea is extremely difficult for a natural thinker to comprehend. The idea of doing something new, adding something else, comes with quite a bit of fear, large amounts of uncertainty and a heck of a lot of questions. “How am I supposed to do all this? Where will I find the time to do it? What do you mean I have to raise $5000?!” Saying yes to God’s requests and divine appointments takes quite a bit of faith—especially when I’m already knowing I have a great deal of crazy in my life (have I told you about my job?). But when God asks us to add something to our lives and we answer in the affirmative, we must know that He has already prepared a way. He has already lined up resources and support. He has already formulated the plan. All we have to do is take that first step and in doing so we say “Yes to the Bless”.

Yes to the Bless?

Yes. By saying yes to God we do take on “more stuff”—quite a bit more actually, but we also open ourselves up to the benefits of trying new things, stretching ourselves and doing His will. Those benefits include, but are certainly not limited to; higher heights and deeper depths (to quote a cliché), a profound repositioning of ourselves, greater influence, expanded borders, renewed identity, and stronger connections.

All this yes-ing has left me with a great sense of awe. I am amazed at how God has moved and is still moving in my life. How He keeps opening unexpected doors in unexpected ways. Each door leads to the next new yes and the next new opportunity for growth. I am a woman of limited energy, so it is amazing to me that I am able to keep up with all the new tasks, to get things done and get them done on time. I am amazed at how I am able to balance all of it and in the balancing find a certain measure of peace and assurance that it’s all good (or to quote the song, “it’s all God”). I look back at what I have done and look forward to what I still have to do and know I would fail “But God”.

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It is a good madness. . .

I have spent quite a bit of time these days reflecting on the current “crazy” of my life.  As I reminisce on how things are unfolding and my talents that are being tapped into, I realize I wouldn’t have it any other way. I have said “Yes to the Bless” and I stand blessed indeed.

**For information about Freedom Challenge or to make a donation: https://impact.thefreedomchallenge.com/fundraiser/1303218


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.

Why Not?!

Why Not | By Bethany Sousa

When you are single, ‘relationship’ can be such an ugly word. The kind of word that makes you feel gross inside. Like you ate too many nachos or something. Okay, maybe that’s too dramatic, but I’m sure you can relate. I’ve been single most of my life, and to be honest it’s been an emotionally challenging concept for me to understand. There’s nothing more annoying than meeting someone for the first time and them asking, “So, are you dating anyone?” my response of “nope” is always followed by the dreaded, “Why not?”. Sometimes I want to respond with something rude like “Gee-I don’t know. Why don’t you go figure it out for me ‘cause obviously I don’t know what I’m doing”. Sometimes I want to be bluntly honest and respond with “It’s because I have standards and apparently I can’t seem to find a man out there who’s not too lazy or self-centered to respect them”. Then there’s those times where I don’t even want to answer and would rather walk away. Most of the time I just respond with “I don’t know”, because I really don’t know. Because let’s face it, if I really knew, I’d probably fix it. It was uncomfortable having this question asked every time I met someone new, so I decided to face my frustration and dissect my discomfort and have an honest conversation with God about this why not question looming over me. 

I’m a single woman, who hasn’t been on a date in over two years. Still holding the “V card”, and fearful of getting married late, or worse never! I’m not even a deep fan of online dating/apps because I still believe in the whole love at first sight gushy stuff. Now that I’m inching toward my 30th birthday, I’ve been reflecting on this “deal” I made with God about five years ago. I had just turned 25 and I was mourning over this lost identity that I had created for myself. It was this image (or to put it plainly, an expectation) of being married in my early 20’s, having a house, having kids, of being this ideal woman that I saw so many other ladies around me fulfilling with such poise. But on my 25th birthday, I realized God had something else in mind, and my “idea” wasn’t really meant for me. This didn’t mean that it didn’t hurt when none of these things happened, but I realized a valuable mistake had been made on my part. I had planned out my life according to what I thought was supposed to happen. Because of my social upbringing, I had planted that sucker deep into my souls’ identity. This really messed with my personal view on who I was as a woman both in life and in the Kingdom. While I watched so many of my friends get married and have kids while slowly drifting away from me and into their magical world of marriage, I couldn’t help but continue to hear this “why not” question on repeat. So I dug deeper with God. Spending a lot of time trying to understand what relationships are and what healthy expectations even look like. Through the last five years, I have gone through different seasons of mourning as well as expectations that were tried and tested. My theology was tested. My morals and values were tested. Even my character was tested, and I still came out asking “why not”. 

IMG_3202My expectations became a vice instead of guidelines. I used to think boys didn’t ask me out because I wasn’t pretty enough, but I realized I probably didn’t notice when a guy was interested because I was so locked onto this idea of a man. Blind sided by myself – that let’s face it, wasn’t even real! It was a fantasy made up to keep me hopeful. I was taught by church to have this list of qualities I wanted in a man and that God would fulfill them. You can imagine how eager I was looking around, waiting patiently, anxiously tuning in to hear God say, “And now Bethany, here is your man!”. And then imagine the disappointment in my heart as I lived the following years trying to find him on my own – because apparently God was making me hunt him down. Yeeeaaahhh…that also didn’t go so well. 

So, here I am today, and that question remains the same. However, I find myself responding differently now. You see, I realized my hearts mistake in trying to tell God what I was going to do with my life, while thinking I could also follow Him as a disciple. I recognized my disobedience, was willing to put in the time, effort, and willing to feel deep pains of correction that would realigned my heart with His to receive freedom. “Why not?” Well, maybe it’s because my story is different than my friends, my moms, even my siblings. Maybe it’s because my personal journey is going to speak to a specific person. Whatever the reason, I’ve learned to not let it loom over me like a cloud of fear and worry. But instead, I’ve learned to let it be a gift that gives me freedom and tenacity. I don’t know if I ever will get married, have the house, the kids, etc. But I do know that that isn’t my current reality. It is a dream that I pray becomes reality one day. I can hope and have faith for, but it is not my identity. 

IMG_3220Time and time again I see such incredible women get stuck in life because of these expectations. I get it, we were made for and desire intimacy and companionship. As I began searching deeper in my heart, and asking the Holy Spirit to reveal to me how I must move in a direction of fulfillment, it came down to some important personal perspectives that I, and I alone, had to change. One day at a time. 


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.

Love. Babies. Lessons.

2017, and all it’s waves of good change, came crashing into a shore full of washed up lessons. I knew I was in a place where I needed to value family more in my heart. I also knew I was in a place where I needed to surrender a specific stronghold of bitterness but I didn’t know how. All the big blessings came and it wasn’t until the end of the year that I would realize how God was going to use them.

15327388_10207641282331963_3824460975027479935_nIn December 2016, my husband Josh and I attended the “Gifts” course at The Father’s House. It was very eye opening! We were coming to the end of the time we’d been planning to wait to have a child together. Frustration was building because we weren’t where we thought we’d be to create the stability we wanted for that baby. At the end of the class someone prophesied over us that she saw some kind of change coming our way. She said “I don’t know if it’s a job, a car, a house, a baby?….” Josh and I both giggled with tears in our eyes thinking, all of those things God – all of those. In January after much crying out to the Lord we decided we would just start trying for a baby even though we were missing all of those things. We prayed over this child before she was here, we believed we were brought together to leave our legacy.

At the end of February, our very small legacy carrier was on the way. In March we decided to get a new vehicle (although, it was justified at the time to be used for Josh to work an extra job). In June, Josh was blessed with the job he’d been working so hard for. In October we moved into a bigger house JUST in time for a SURPRISE baby GIRL born November 5th. Anaiah is her name and it means “God Answered.”

And God answered it all, the need for a refocus and the bitterness. I have been working in the birth profession for nearly 5 years. Developing my knowledge over the years while witnessing how things do NOT happen the way they should in the hospitals had seriously taken its toll. I’d witnessed more coercion, abuse, and manipulation then I could begin to mention. All towards vulnerable parents who deserve to be respected during a time they will never forget. My work was (and still is) such a huge passion, as it was a mission to change things. As a childbirth educator, birth doula, and lactation educator/counselor, I was extremely focused on changing things as much as I could. Because of this imbalance, the anger that was developing – this drive started competing with my role as a mom, wife, and follower of Christ.

23415185_10210272206583425_3959298861373837751_oNot only was the gender of our baby a huge surprise (pretty much everyone guessed it was a boy besides Pastor Dan), but her birth and my postpartum experience was as well. A planned homebirth resulted in a hospital birth. A determination to breastfeed better this time came crashing down. I spent about the first six weeks of Anaiah’s life wrestling with the fact that a decision I’d made 5 years ago had completely ruined my ability to breastfeed.

When I birthed Anaiah in the hospital it was a pretty hilarious experience from an outsider’s perspective. I was SO tense and ready to fight that I was barking orders with thirty seconds to spare between contractions. I finally relaxed and started being more frank with my communication. For example, when we attempted to express our desire for Josh to help deliver the baby, the nurse said “oh, we don’t do that here. Maybe if I ask the doctor, but probably not.” I nodded as she spoke, smiled, and responded “okay, thank you for telling us all of that but just so you know – we’re probably just going to do what we want to do.” Can you imagine her face? Ha! It turned out that we just began to deliver our baby ourselves with no one else in the room to ensure we got what was so important to us. Josh even snapped a picture of her coming out with both our hands on her head.

As weird as that may sound to most readers, that was a miraculous moment we’ll never forget. Our family, all connected in the miracle of life. So together. I realized that the big mean scary monster the hospital had become was actually none of that to each individual family I help. I learned that it’s actually not that difficult to communicate your desires. And you can even have some fun with it! I no longer needed to carry such a biter burden for all these families. Now I can teach them without fear!

26685212_10210684610613268_2840468400181914057_oThe postpartum experience wasn’t as much of a quick lesson. I could never fully describe the level of guilt I carried. Can you imagine learning your baby was sick and starving and you didn’t even know? And literally because you made an ignorant and selfish choice to take away her nutrition? Weeks and weeks of desperation trying to make milk. Weeks and weeks of mourning a loss that was so incredibly important to me. I likened the emotional expense to some of the most traumatic things I’ve experienced in life. I looked back on the birth and said to myself, if I could pick being able to breastfeed and trade it for a traumatic birth experience – I would. My priorities were totally shifting. Bonding with and nourishing my baby for what could’ve been a year or two (or more!) was realized as WAY more important than a one-time experience together. As I moved through these thoughts and cried and cried every step of the way, my husband was right by my side. He held me tight as I broke into pieces. We’ve never been through something so difficult before. He taught me how much we need each other. It might be safe to assume, I’ve taught him the same. His new job has been difficult, to say the least, and I’ve been right by his side as well.

All these changes, all these blessings, all these lessons. I already knew I needed to value family more, but I didn’t know how. I already knew I didn’t need to harbor bitterness, but I didn’t know how to get rid of it. Welcome, little baby Anaiah. Such a small person carrying such great truths which “God has answered.” Bitterness was built up in fear, fear was the driving force of distraction against focusing on love. God already said, “There is no fear in love, perfect love drives out fear.” 1 John 4:18 Of course, oxytocin lives on as cortisol diminishes and Love wins again.


26756917_10210720229663722_1296659016472475728_oKaren and Josh Brann have been married 18 months. Karen brought two precious girls to their union, Natanya and Mikayla. Their family recently celebrated the birth of a third daughter, Anaiah. Karen has been a childbirth educator, birth doula, and lactation educator/counselor for the last 5 years, helping women and families experience their best birth. Empowering women is part of her life’s biggest purpose now.  She is relentless in giving moms the information she lacked. Not only with HypnoBirthing, but also in how to have a positive hospital birth and how to be successful in breastfeeding.