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.

Keep Out: Skeletons in my Closet

Keep Out: Skeletons in my Closet| By Bethany Luchetta

For some reason, I decided to check the details of my cell phone bill online when the monthly statement hit my inbox. I don’t know why… I must have been bored. I sat at my desk, and opened the pages of endless phone calls and text messages. It was July of 2012 and my husband and I just had our beloved wedding vow renewal at our Carlsbad house on the beach. And although it was a time filled with love, family and friends, it was tough because my ex-husband had just passed away 4 weeks prior. I admit now, I was in a deep dark place. As I skimmed the bill, I noticed a certain number over and over and over… what is this? Dates, hours, minutes, messages sent and received. My heart dropped into my stomach, my stomach turned, and then I started to lose my vision. I was headed into a panic-attack of a life-time. I grabbed my cell phone and excused myself from work and headed out the back door, sat on a curb and called a friend as I hyper-ventilated. I couldn’t get all the words out. She had flown in just days prior to stand by me for my vow renewal. She rambled off questions as I tried to get words out; should I send help? Where are you? Are you okay? I don’t honestly know what I was saying, but I can tell you exactly where I was, and exactly what I was feeling.

Hours, and days later it would unravel that my husband was having an emotional affair with a girl on the road. Not just any girl, but the backup singer for Kid Rock. That sounds weird, right?! Not so weird. Vince worked as a monitor Engineer for Kid Rock. In fact, he had just worked up to this illustrious position over the last four years of hard work. Vince happened to be visiting his parents while he was ‘on the road’ when I called him. So, it became evident to his family there was an issue, and to Vince’s credit, he confessed his sins to his mom and dad immediately when the news hit the fan. Along with the revelation of the relationship also came news of his dependence on alcohol. My head was spinning. I just lost my ex-husband, and now I was losing my current one. I was too broken to wall up, so instead I fell apart.

For those of you who know me, and don’t know this story, it may answer some questions as to why I started my journey into soul healing and growth. I didn’t walk, I ran to my pastors. Tracy was so heartfelt in not rescuing me from my pain. I recount sitting on the couch at California Coffee house, her handing me ear buds and the song, “Come to Me” by Jenn Johnson. I sat with my eyes shut and crocodile tears ran down my face. I still hold to the lyrics, “You are my anchor in the wind and the waves.” I had to make a decision. Was I going to jump ship, or find out the cause of my symptoms. What was under my sickness? I knew I had to get real with Vince. What were his intentions? Did he want to grow? Or leave? Were we over? NO matter the answers, I knew I had to find healing for myself.

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Vince vowed to get help, get healthy, quit touring, allow me to join a conference call with the back-up singer when he, ‘called it all off’, and surround himself with several men who wanted to walk the journey with him. He agreed to meet with Pastor Dan and also agreed to start counseling. He agreed that our journeys were separate. He needed to heal from the demise of his divorce and the pain he was stuffing, and I needed to do the same with my divorce and subsequent death of someone I loved deeply. I had to let him go, he had to let me go, and we had to hold onto the goal of health individually, for health corporately.

There are tons of more stories about this journey and its undertaking. The costs; financially, emotionally, mentally; dying to pride and fear. The choice to keep community and God close. The choice not to worry about changing ‘the other person’ but owning ‘our own stuff’. There are sacrifices to be made. There are things you have to give up. There are relationships that have to die, and others that need to be made. There are new rules for engagement. I have been telling a lot of my friends lately this fact: Vince and I hit a huge heartbreaking hurdle over five years ago, but our marriage didn’t get better with one year of counseling. It didn’t get better with hanging out together more. It didn’t get better trying to ‘do’ better, or trying to ‘stop’ doing bad. It didn’t even get better with all these things. It got better with intention, lot and lots of time (years), accountability to be vulnerable and dive into our pain for answers. It got better with staying in tune with our community and allowing safe people to see our flaws in order to help us grow. It got better with Faith. It got better with choosing to take the information provided and apply it to our own heart and soul. To let go takes Love.

IMG_2727I want to express how much our journey was ‘worth it’. We are still in our journey and are just now starting to experience healthy dialog in our relationship. We are just now starting to understand what it means to love – not for how we make each other feel or what we do for each other, but for who we are. We are just now embarking on a journey to learn intimacy and go to a new level within our love that we have never experienced before. Just now. If you’re reading this, don’t lose heart. Your soul is worth it, your family is worth it. You are worth it.

 

*Small word of clarity. If you are in a physical, sexually, or emotionally abusive relationship, please seek professional guidance for repairing your relationship. Everyone deserves to be respected and honored, you are valuable!


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Bethany 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!

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.