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.

 

Intimacy

Intimacy | By Bethany Luchetta

Where are you God? I am waiting for You to show up.

Fact: God is here. So now what?

Here is what I found. I hope you can pick-up on my analogy. You can walk around on a getty_rf_twofingerspecial date with your lover. You can be with them and connect. But you aren’t making love 100% of the time, or even 90% or 10% or of the time. The truly intimate, physically
resonating connecting moments are rarer than the time we spend together connecting in non-physical ways. There may be seasons when we are jumping-in-bed-all-the-time; making-love like bunnies! This is the same with our intimacy with God. There are seasons we are running to Him, fully feeling Him, and experiencing wholeness in our soul. You may say, ‘addicted’ to the emotional high we get from ‘the touch’!

With that in mind… What if your lover only wanted you in bed? What kind of Online-Dating-Data-Featured-382x255relationship would that be? I am ashamed to admit, there was a time I thought sex was the only flash-in-the-pan that I needed. But the truth is, it leaves you empty if there is no other connection. What about truly caring for someone outside of how they make you feel? What if there was no ‘foreplay’ or time spent getting to know your heart and mind. The relationship would be shallow and immature. So, just like your lover, God wants to hear your heart. God wants you to hear His heart too!

The dictionary defines ‘coming together’ or ‘communion’ (which is a form of prayer) as: The sharing or exchanging of intimate thoughts and feelings, especially when the exchange is on a mental or spiritual level.

In 1 Thessalonians 5:17, the Apostle Paul says to ‘pray without ceasing’. How is this even possible if prayer only looks like a traditional prayer picture we see on wall art. It is not possible to live like that. We couldn’t perform any other of our worldly tasks required if we are down on knees petitioning all day – albeit, this type of prayer is important in times. It’s not a wonder this definition of ‘pray’ in verse 17 is outlined as: “Fellowship with God through Jesus Christ, expressed in adoration, thanksgiving and intercession, through which believers draw near to God and learn more of his will for their lives.” This, we can do without ceasing. And what is November without Thanksgiving!?

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I struggle with this idea of prayer (or any idea of prayer, to be completely honest). I still long for ‘the touch’. You may have heard of ‘programming; yes, like a computer. People are programmed a certain way (nature / nurture). Sometimes your computer needs new programing. The brain responds to new code. So, here is my specific struggle, I have a hard time asking for help. And it’s my responsibility to upload the new script so I can grow. So, prayer to God for petition or intercession creates a mind-block for me. But I have to train myself that the Bible is true and this area of prayer is good, and desired by God. I also struggle with being vulnerable and allowing myself to be known. Prayer for ‘communion’ sake – just being together and becoming familiar with one another is good. So, I have to re-program myself for that Truth. And even when I crave the deeper touch, I have to trust that the other moments are vital and bring deeper faith. The feeling will come with time. Truth will set you free, and rehearsing it will reprogram your mind.

The intimacy you crave (and I crave) is good. God desires intimacy with us too. It fills us up so we can give back.

I am laughing out loud right now because an example just came to my mind: when you get intimate time with your lover, it takes the edge off. If you don’t get ‘the need’ met, the 5340957245d848fe96680acc6b5bd71fsaying goes, you end-up with “pent-up sexual energy”. When those needs are met, you have greater ability to cope at work, less likely to be distracted, more attentive to your children, and the like. But you also have other needs, and so does your lover. What if you never asked for help? Or your lover never asked you for help? What if you never sat down and talked? It would feel less like a partnership and more like a booty-call. Same with God. He wants to partner with you. He wants you to petition Him. He wants you to intercede. He also wants to ask you to come alongside Him and be a vehicle for action on this planet for His purposes like a power couple. It’s a symbiotic relationship (symbiotic: interaction between two different organisms living in close physical association, typically to the advantage of both).

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Both deep intimacy and communion are vital to keep the other in balance and growing in deeper relationship.

Even when I don’t feel it, I have to reprogram myself to the fact: God hasn’t left me until our next session. God is omnipresent. He is with me even when I don’t ‘feel’ like that’s the truth. Romans 8 is encouraging me right now. I hope it can encourage you as well. I will end with this beautiful expanded version: “When we have trouble, when we are hunted-down, when we are destroyed, when we are hungry, when we are penniless, when we are in danger, when we are threatened to death, when we fear today, when we worry about tomorrow. In the depths of the ocean, or on the highest height, has God deserted us!? NO! Nothing will separate us from the love of God.” I think I can add in there, even in the mundane, even in the daily tasks, in the routine, in the moments I don’t ‘feel’ it. I will choose to program my mind to KNOW that God is with me; I have not been left. An intimate exchange will come and it will be beautifully refreshing. I am growing closer to God.


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 (13), and Livvy Lou (3). If you see them, reach out and say hi!

 

An Unlikely Companion

An Unlikely Companion; The truth about the ever present shadow of depression, clinging to me when I am at my weakest. | By Dezirae Hesse

Depression: meet my dark and twisted companion I’ve known since the seventh grade. I call it my companion because it’s always there, like a shadow, lurking and waiting for me when I’m weakest. A product of the enemy no doubt. Stirred up when you least expect it. I was young and experiencing the woes of being a teenage girl in middle school. My parents were ironically becoming “the enemy” and I felt like I was alone in the world and didn’t know how to deal with all of my new and overwhelming feelings. That’s when I first felt the pangs of the unmeasurable darkness. Although I had never experienced it before that point, I had seen it growing up. My sister had tried to take her life twice when I was younger and even had to stay in a mental institution on ‘Suicide Watch’. As someone who was closest to her I knew how low and how sad she was – I had just never felt that for myself. I saw the strain it put on our family and how after my parents were quick to diagnose and medicate anything they didn’t know how to handle. I wanted nothing to do with it – it was all so hush-hush and I thought it was something to be ashamed of. So, I remember telling myself I wasn’t going to let it overtake me because I didn’t want any part of that lifestyle, and somehow was able to suppress it most of my life.

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My most recent and arguably one of the deepest depressions I’ve experienced happened about a week after I got married. Odd to see isn’t it? Depression and marriage in the same sentence. As beautiful and joyous as that day was for me it was as if it was a catalyst back into the arms of my dark and twisted companion. Before I knew what was even happening I was in the dark, gray and dull world that is depression. It envelops you overnight while you sleep and you’re most vulnerable. I couldn’t get out of bed, I couldn’t eat, I felt numb to anything and everything happening around me, and could feel no other emotion besides the overwhelming sensation of hopeless despair. What was the point of even getting out of bed when I had absolutely nothing to live for (or so it felt)? It was like my mattress had grown arms while I was sleeping and I was trapped in its relentless grip, sinking deeper and deeper into my bed. I remember feeling guilty because as a new wife I was already failing my new husband, Eric. I wasn’t the ‘Susie Homemaker’ I had idealized in my head: the house was not clean, the dishes were piling up, and I was anything but attentive. And nothing he did was making me feel better. It’s like knowing there’s a battle going on in your body (while to others you look seemingly fine) and not being able to do anything about it. I started to feel his anger and resentment towards me. Why couldn’t I just get out of bed? Why didn’t I just take a shower? Why wouldn’t I just eat? What was the point? I was a failure. The days I was able to get out of bed I didn’t feel like myself. It was like I was a hollow shell of who I was walking around with a dull sense of self. I started to withdraw from friends and family. I wouldn’t answer my phone calls and would deny any social occasion. I just couldn’t bring myself to slap on the ‘I’m okay and everything’s great’ mask this time. The enemy relies heavily on the fact that depression isolates you and goes to work beating you while you’re already down. You don’t want to let people know what you’re going through because you don’t want to burden others with the heaviness you’re carrying. I felt suicidal without the tendencies – what a terrifying realization that was.

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Fortunately, we had a life group to turn to (thank you Skinny Chins – you know who you are). I admit there were a couple of meetings that I had missed because I couldn’t pretend to be okay when I definitely was not, but Eric reassured me that this is what Life Group was about: going through the ups and downs of life together; getting together to support and uplift each other when life gets you down. And let me tell you: life group is just that – a group of people that breathe life into you with love, support, and words of encouragement. Especially when you’re feeling low. That’s where my most recent visit from my “companion” was put into perspective: I was grieving the life I had. Everything I had to look forward to was now done and I was feeling like I had no purpose to go back to. It was like the person I was – even my name – was gone. As a highly empathetic and compassionate person, I had just gone through some pretty serious milestones in my life and I was overwhelmed by the change. Not knowing how to navigate it all, I unwilling sank into the infinite abyss that is depression yet again. It was so bad I seriously considered seeing a therapist and using medication to get me out (something I have never been willing to do my entire life so that was a HUGE and scary thing to me). There I was asked a simple question that changed everything: How had I overcome it in the past? The answer: I was strong enough not to let it overtake me. I either needed to give in and get help or pray for the strength to overcome. It was my choice and both were commendable. There was nothing to be ashamed of and as I was reminded I didn’t have to stay on the medication forever. So, I was at a fork in the road: turn to medication or find the will and the strength to break out of this again. I went home that night with a renewed sense of hope and the most simple answer: with God I can do anything. I prayed all night to walk in my God given strength to overcome the enemy.
Twin-Oaks-Garden-Estate-Wedding-Dezirae-Eric-VP495You need people the most when you’re going through hard times – darkness cannot live in the light of the words which others speak into you. Every day I’m on the up-and-up and feel more positive and productive in my life and marriage. There are days when I feel like I’m slipping, but I tend to overcome. I am open about my feelings of depression now more than ever – especially surrounding my wedding. The more women I talk to about it the more I find out that it is not as uncommon as it may seem. Although I will probably battle with depression the rest of my life, I was definitely reminded about the importance of fellowship and having a foundation rooted in faith.

John 8:12 Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

 


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Dezirae Hesse has been married for 7 months. She and her husband, Eric live in Escondido and are proud pet parents (say that five times fast) to their cat, Zara and fish, Charlie. They have been going to The Father’s House together for almost 2 years, and serve on the Worship Team and TFH Kids.

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*

How to Plan an Epic Adventure

Three valuable tips for your next outing, getaway or grand vacation | By Josh Clements

You don’t have to be a superhero to have epic adventures with your loved ones but after following the tips in this blog, you’ll probably be mistaken for one.  

When asked about epic summer adventures in July, in San Diego, I was drawn to a comic book analogy like like Superman is drawn to shouts of “help!”, like Tony Stark is drawn to a mirror and like Stan Lee is drawn to, well draw anything…(things just got a wee bit nerdy, I’m sorry, please hang in there).  BlogPost3However, what I’m really saying here is that when I hear the word “epic” I immediately think of heroes, quests and the exciting things that happen and the memories that are made as a result. 

A wise man once gave Peter Parker some sage advice: “with great power comes great responsibility.”  This is very true.  However, when thinking about “summer time” I thought of a phrase that contains the essence of this advice combined with my own philosophy: “with great amounts of time, comes great opportunity.”  The question you may have is “opportunity for what?” All of us have an opportunity to have an “epic summer adventure,” however, just because it is summer, and it’s a vacation, doesn’t automatically make it “epic.”

It is on an epic quest that our heroes; find their purpose, overcome challenges and finally achieve their goal.

For anyone planning an outing, getaway or grand vacation remember to do these three things that epic heroes have done before us in literature and film:

  1. Define the purpose.
  2. Identify and prepare for challenges.
  3. Achieve something great for our family and friends.

I believe that all of us do a great job of the first two.  

We make a plan: “This summer we are going to Disneyland so we can go on the rides and meet the characters.”  

We prepare for challenges: “We will pack a backpack full of snacks and water so that ‘little Johnny’ doesn’t have a tantrum while waiting for Dumbo.”

However, we can look to our hero for advice on how to shift our summer outings from mere vacations to epic adventures by achieving something great:  

BlogPost6After his third year at Hogwarts, Harry routinely visits the neighboring village of Hogsmeade to partake in warm and tasty drinks at The Three Broomsticks and pick up some candy at Honeyduke’s Candy Shop.  Does he go alone?  BlogPost7No, he travels with his best friends Hermoine and Ron.  While there, they enjoy their time.  However, they also take the time to connect with each other.  They share the experience of partaking in everything that Hogsmeade has to offer, but they also talk about many things, are transparent, and, as a result, become better friends because of these conversations.

Does Harry plan his travel? Yes.  Does he take in the sights and sounds “the foreign land?  Yes.  Does he rush off to “check something off” his itinerary?  No.  

This is essential.  

He spends time with his best friends.  He talks with them about what is on his mind.  He shares the experience with 

them.  They sit.  They bond.  They develop their relationship.  This is what we sometimes miss while on vacation; focusing on using the time we are given to build relationships with the people whom we care about.

It’s easy to think  “oh man, I spend $300 on tickets, $1,000 on airfare, and have only five days to experience it all. Sooooooooo we only have 15 minutes to sit on this beach before we “have to” move on to the next thing.” BlogPost8Another wise bearded man (no, not Dumbledore) said “All you have to do is decide is what to do with the time that is given to you.”

No matter how much money you spend ($5 or $5,000), it is essential to focus on what is most important; who you involve, the words you speak and the relationships you build.  No matter what, you will take pictures of the sights and of your fellow adventurers.  Later, when you and your travelling companions look at these photos, what will they remember?  Will they remember you pulling them along to look at an exact replica of a Nimbus 2000 or will they remember the conversation you had before you ate a handful of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans and the face you made when you tried a lawn clippings flavor?

Different locales are amazing; various beaches, different countries, even hidden parts of our own city are perfect settings for your adventure because they allow us to create shared experiences. What will you share? What will you do to make your time epic?”

The time will go by like The Flash (sorry, I couldn’t resist), how will you make the most of it?

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image1Josh Clements is an excellent planner of fun family outings, day trips and long, eight hour dates with his wife, Hannah. As an Eagle Scout, he knows how to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Together Josh and Hannah help raise Adam (15), Gracie (11) and Aidan (8). Josh has been a professional educator for 12 years and is currently working at San Marcos High School where he teaches 9th grade English and is the yearbook advisor. Josh and Hannah own the “little green house on the corner” in historic Escondido from which they often “adventure” to buy donuts from Peterson’s Donut Corner.