Don’t Slap the Princess

How many of us know that we can do something with healthy motivation, and do the same exact thing, with unhealthy motivation!? Being clean or tidy, for example. It can be our natural bend, gift mix or personality – birthed from a healthy desire for our life. Or we can be motivated to clean from our deficiency, fear, or control. One motive gives life, the other takes life. One may manifest from love, the other striving for love.

images-2When we think of today, we may think of hearts, candy, love, flowers, etc. Do you ever associate Valentine’s Day with love for yourself? Daughters young and old, from every culture and religion, learn from others how to love themselves – or hate themselves from a young age. Most of how we understand love comes from the caregiver(s) we had growing up. In turn, most of us project our understanding of love learned from caregiver(s) onto God. We ‘learn‘ about our need for love; acceptance and validation (or our fear of rejection and fear of exposure) early in life. But, our projection on God from what we’ve experienced on earth is typically lightyears apart from His true expression of love for us.

DoingVsBeingGods loves doesn’t change. But we do… we are human after all. What happens when a child does something they aren’t proud of? My daughter will hide behind my leg or tuck her head into my shoulder in anticipation of having to apologize for something she isn’t proud of. Sounds like Adam & Eve. Shame causes us to react. Some shame is there to keep us in the boundaries of healthy living. John Bradshaw would say, “Healthy shame says I did something bad. Unhealthy shame says I am bad.” Wait, some shame is bad? If we didn’t have the feeling of right vs wrong (shame), what would limit us from bad behavior? There are some times we do need to be repentant of bad/shameful behavior. Set that aside, I’m talking about the unhealthy shame motivation. So many of were raised with a gaping hole from the love we needed verses love received. We simply walk around with shame reactions all the time – we think we are bad.

How many times have we felt, or said, if they knew XYZ about me, they would not accept me, or even reject me. How can we be fully loved if we aren’t fully known? If we are the sum of all our parts, which make us a whole person, we can’t be truly loved if we aren’t truly known. Sounds like a recipe for a lifetime of emptiness. But Gods Love is so powerful; He fully knows us, still sent His Son to die for us (while we were sinners), and Loves us without condition.

140216-2What if we could change how we thought about shame, love and acceptance? Maybe we struggle to love ourselves? Struggle to be fully known, so we hide; tuck and run. Do you ever notice yourself trying to explain, justify, clarify, or rationalize your behavior? This is rooted from a unhealthy toxic learned shame (noted from: LifeSkills International). We do this to try to legitimize our need for acceptance and love. So ‘what if’ when the desire to vindicate yourself pops up, instead you stop and say, “I am okay with me! God is okay with me!” What if we took a conscious effort to love our SELF. I’m not talking about being selfish, or even the narcissistic approach that the world has adopted on the topic of self. I’m talking about actually looking at yourself like a small child – lovable and squeezable and innocent – because you are!

Imagine that you are truly the Daughter of the King and KNOWING that He doesn’t condemn or shame you. He openly embraces all your parts, and you can too!

 

38C4C6F500000578-3807402-image-m-2_1474879237125I’ll admit I have a dire desire not to be misunderstood. Its roots look like shame: they say I’m not good enough for me, so I must rationalize, explain, justify, and clarify myself to you (even if /when you haven’t even asked for my epilogue). Have you ever been ashamed of your shame!? I have. It isn’t pretty. I waste so much time and energy grasping for the love and acceptance of others, when I could stop and accept the Love of Christ, and the love for His Daughter (myself!). Ha! I got a picture of me walking up to Princess Kate and slapping her in the face. Holy Cow. How disrespectful! Jesus reminds me, you do this every time you beat yourself up for not being good enough. You are a Daughter of the King. A treasure. R.E.S.P.E.C.T

If we really had bad behavior, we can own it. We can expose ourselves ASAP. And then, instead of going to negative self-talk, “I’m stupid”, “I always do that”, or “I’ll never get it right”, we can change our ways, and agree truth – “I did bad, but I can change my behavior and make this right”, “I am okay with myself because Gods way works for me”, and, “God alone is my vindicator, and He loves me!”.

LOVE!


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!

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.

A Story of Overcoming

Putting One Foot In Front of the Other A Story of Overcoming | By Sonya Finley

So there I was again, all decked out in my walker’s finest gear. Braids up in a pony, sun visor on to protect my face, moisture wicking jacket and top, cute little running capris with cut outs on the sides (you couldn’t really see them because of the compression socks I had to wear to keep my shins from splinting into a thousand bits of pain), and the cool Nike running shoes my youngest so graciously purchased for his momma. Oh and do not forget the waist pouch that dutifully carried my bottle of water (complete with a hydration tablet) and the, oh so yummy, energy giving snacks. Yup, there I was again, at the base of a “hill” (Double Peak, San Marcos, Ca. 2.1 miles straight up) about to embark upon yet another physically challenging endeavor, all because someone told me I could do it. Really?!

SF Running 2018In the past two years I have begun a physical fitness journey that, I promise you, I could not have foreseen myself doing. I am not and have never considered myself an athlete and in fact, I have adamantly denied any athletic tendency whatsoever. So the idea that I would be participating in 5K’s, 10K’s, Half Marathon Relays, Half Marathons and even a brief 17 day “run a mile a day” streak, is in a word, SHOCKING . . . but apparently only to me.

When I started; I was just looking for a way to get healthy. Having been blessed with a lovely (not really) hypo-thyroid condition losing weight is extremely difficult so that was not really the goal. Finding myself of a certain age, I realized the need to “move it or lose it” and so I began walking. Of course, my big sis, the quintessential greatness coach and a person who can make you believe you can do almost anything (try her), would not, could not, leave me there. She decided I needed a “goal” to keep me consistent.  First goal, prepare for and complete a 5K (3 miles).  I rose to the challenge and did my first 5K (it was not pretty), but I did it and oddly enough, I did not stop there.  Fast forward to about 2 years later and I find myself training for my second half marathon scheduled in June!

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I will not tell you that I love it or that I even like it. In fact, there are times during these races where I “hate” my sister with a passion for talking me into whatever event I have the “misfortune” of participating in. You see, I am a walker, not a runner, and an extremely slow walker at that. When I do these things, old people pass me by. Kids pass me by. People with crutches and walking sticks pass me by.  And it does not matter where in the wave I start, I always end up near the last when I finish. My pride takes a beating. My ego becomes non-existent. I feel so awkward. It would be so easy to quit. And really, who would blame me? Would you?

Temecula Run 2016But something happens on those 3, 6, and 13.1 mile stretches when everyone has passed me by and it is just me, walking, slowly but surely putting one foot in front of the other. I remind myself of who I am. How strong I am. How I can, in fact, do this. I remind myself that there have been times in my life that were much harder than just trying to make it to the finish line of a grueling course. I remember the times in my life when I truly felt I had been left behind and was making the journey alone.  I remind myself of how I overcame those struggles simply by putting one foot in front of the other–taking it step by step, day by day, head down, pressing forward, trusting God until miraculously I reached the end.

On the occasions that I looked up, I check out the folks running past me. I then remind myself that everyone running the race has their own challenges to overcome. Oftentimes the struggles are intensely personal and have nothing to do with competing with the person running next to them. The goal is to simply make it to the end–to be victorious, to overcome. To walk (or hobble) away with the pride that comes from completing the race on your feet. Understanding this keeps me from making senseless comparisons and helps me stay focused on my goal to keep moving forward, never quitting, no matter how my body protests the abuse. LOL!

Hot choco 2016To date, I have never quit. I have finished every race I have challenged myself with. And believe me, every race is a challenge to finish.  And while I never come first (or even close to it), in the end, it does not matter where in the line I finish, just as long as I finish. Every finisher receives the same medal whether they crossed the line first or came in long after the event sponsors have packed up and left.

SonyaSo yes, there I was again, at the foot of the mountain, not really understanding why I was there, geared up, but not quite ready to go, and yet…slowly but surely, putting one foot in front of the other, I made it up that mountain. Dead last, but I celebrated the win right along with everyone else.


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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.

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.