Observations of a Blown Mind – Who’d a Thunk?

Observations of a Blown Mind – Who’d a Thunk? | By Sonya Finley
A Freedom Challenge Story

This past June, I had the opportunity to participate in the Bryce/Zion Freedom Challenge 2018. I was unprepared for the unexpectedly awesome experience it would be. Who’d a thunk hanging with a bunch of women in the canyons of Utah would be so mind blowing? I walked away with quite a few profound observations.

Who’d a thunk. . .?

. . .a great love could be displayed in so many small ways?From the very beginning, I felt like God was reminding He loved me in very small, special ways. From being upgraded to Premium Class on our departing flight, to the “I got you” attitude of the young lady working the counter at the car rental office, to the sweet ride (Nissan Armada, fully loaded, leather seats, sunroof…you get the idea) I drove in to Utah, to the women who supportively listen to my story without judgement, to Ms. Barbara whose prayers reminded me that “the who” that I am has purpose, to finding the perfect cluster of trees with a wooden “bench” that made it easy for me to “take care of much needed business” on my first hike, to the surprising connections made, to the leader who sought me out because she had not seen me all day, to the care shown by the prayer team as they prayerfully massaged the aches and pains from our feet after each hike. And even though I felt a wee bit discombobulated (well a lot discombobulated), my Beauty for Ashes painting presentation was well received and gave the ladies a much needed “lightness” after a very heavy day. I gotta say, I left feeling very loved indeed.

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. . .A single word could be so powerful?This year the prayer warriors gave each hiker a word. One word prayerfully considered and totally applicable to the woman who received it. These words resonated with the women all week long and for some, was the difference between giving up and finding strengthto keep pushing.  There were also quite a few ladies who latched on to an “unexpected” word spoken in a manner of power and joy. Hallelujah!I do not recall the context in which I was asked to say it, but I did. And while the women responded in kind, I thought that was the end of it. But for the next few days, I was told several stories of how that word was spoken from the “mountain top” and how it inspired songs of praise. I saw it being intoned at the beginning of prayers and I, myself, used it before my presentation to bring focus in a moment of perceived chaos. A simple word, so full of power, praise and joy. (Of course, I have now been dubbed the “hallelujah hiker”.)

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. . .that challenging yourself for someone else’s freedom would lead to your own?We were there to fight for others who were in no position to fight for themselves, but much was said about how we are all overcome with our own versions of enslavement. Issues that hold our identities hostage filtering everything we believe about ourselves through a lens so dense we lose sight of our purpose, our power, our possibilities. The challenge of the hikes provided an opportunity to put a very physical action to a very spiritual deliverance. The act of pushing oneself beyond your comfort put the women (including myself) in a venerable place open to healing and deliverance. For the Level 1 group, the “Sassy Silver Sistahs”, we picked up a burden at the beginning of our second hike. We named it and then literally through it away, an action that symbolized a burden being released and given to God. There were tears and the released burdens were weighty. We all came down the mountain a little lighter that day.

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. . .stories of enslavement can be found in our back yard?We were blessed to hear the story of an American woman’s journey from being enslaved by her mother and stepfather to finding a life of freedom that included a long-lasting marriage, children, and a passion to help others out of where she used to be. Her strength to endure being locked in a room where she was practically starved and sexually abused daily and her courage to share her story was powerful. It reminded us what we were there for.

. . .a professed non-athlete can stand proudly and call herself a hiker? So, shortly after I said yes to this challenge, I realized the magnitude of what I agreed to. I agreed to hike for three days in a row?! Not one, but three?! Say what now? But I’m good, right? I walk 5k’s, 10k’s and half marathons, so I should be okay. I thought, until I began training. I felt well out of my depth—unqualified and unable to complete the challenge. I professed this lack—often! I’m pretty sure I annoyed my teammates to no end. My anxiety around this event was high. But I’m no quitter, so I showed up and faced my fears. Fears, which, I must be honest, did not abate until I sat with our Sherpa (Roxy Hicks—she’s awesome!) and she let us know what to expect. I will even admit I got a little excited …what?! I hiked three days! Three very different types of hikes! It was not a walk in the park (literally), but I got through it and I actually enjoyed it. Our leaders’ approach went far to make all of us feel less self-conscious about our level of abilities and kept our focus on enjoying the journey (and taking pictures!). On the last day of the conference I proudly proclaimed, “I am a hiker”. This declaration received a round of applause, a standing ovation from my dear Sherpa, and I became the proud recipient of the proverbial (and literal) “big girl panties”!

. . .that I am capable of far more than I think?What I didn’t think I could do, God should me I could. Simple as that.

Who’d a thunk indeed…

A Freedom Challenge hiker, that’s


20180625_171510Sonya 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.

Guest Blog – Building Your Own House

Building Your Own House – Chapter Two of Chop Wood, Carry Water by Joshua Medcalf

Author gave permission to use his work here. As we embark into July; discussing freedoms, having hot dogs & hamburgers, let’s remember with each action, motivation of our heart, every syllable, and even our unspoken communication – WE, are, building, our, own, house. 

 

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…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!

 

 

April Showers…

April Showers… | By Bethany Luchetta

Ladies, I sit down to write this and tears well up. I have to ask myself where the emotion is coming from?! Haven’t I been processing this forEVER!.

Maybe you can relate to the feeling. Is there that ‘one’ thing in your life that just nags at you. It keeps rearing its head, just to stare you down to win the contest? Big sighs.

I am not sure how much of this journey I have written about in the past, or how long ago it was, or who read it. So, forgive me if you have heard part of this, just skip to the end.

I was born in Manhattan Kansas on December 9, 1980…. Wait, she’s starting from the beginning?! Boring. Ha. My birth announcement says, “Hoping you’ll rejoice with us”. My birth certificate has some particulars on it, birth name, parents, hospital, county, date. You know, the normal stuff.

Flash forward almost ten years. My family was on a camping trip when my parents showed us the wedding ring my dad had given my mom with an inscription of their wedding date; May 30, 1981. Wheels start to turn in my head. I was born in 1980. What’s the deal here? I can take myself back to the moments of what happened next around the fire-pit in Kern County. My parents began to explain how my older sister and I were not my dad’s biological children. My short life and a myriad of questions flashed across my mind without stopping; I was spiraling out of control without moving an inch. Then without control my tears sprang like raindrops from a sudden storm. I don’t recall how I ended up in my tent, but I laid there with snot and tears and unspoken questions pouring. I had felt different, disconnected, and a general sense of loss about something in my life. This news reinforced what I had been feeling with facts.

Messages Image(713973681)I say that there were not many conversations about this situation after this camping trip. As a kid I would say there wasn’t a platform for conversation when I was young. But I as an adult, I now see I was just afraid and insecure about how that would look for my life and I didn’t have the guidance to work those fears out.

Flash forward again another 8 years. I am not certain to this day about how this situation evolved. But I flew with my mom to her high school reunion in Northern California. I had a conversation with my mom about my birth father potentially attending this reunion, and if I wanted to meet him. I vaguely recall being unsure, but willing to pursue the truth about my lineage. As I deplaned (pre-2001), he was standing at the terminal gate exit. I didn’t know what he looked like, or that he would even be at the airport. But, the first thing I heard from this stranger was, “Hello Bethany.” I recall feeling absolute shock. SHOCK. Unwarned, unsure, unprepared, panicked and exposed. I am not sure what happened next. All I remember was disconnecting from myself into some imagination land of self-preservation/protection.

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That weekend passed and I slowly found myself wanting to know more about my family of origin. I began meeting other family members and trying to build relationships. This didn’t go very well for the family back at home. It seemed to put my home on defense and high alert. My dad and mom fought about it, my sisters yelled at me about it, and I felt isolated and alone. These memories could have been one-time events, but they felt permanent and pervasive and always on my mind. This was a very tough season for me.

Years have gone by and my family has encounter ups-and-downs on this subject, blow-outs, highly charged emotional moments and months without talking. I haven’t always been nice about the topic; restless. It’s still not an easy topic for most of my family. There have been lots of things said by different family members and I have struggled in wondering if the birth father I met when I was 18-years-old, was actually really my birth father… or if there was still someone else out there who made me.

Questioning my identity has not been an easy path. Could I have just left ‘good-enough-alone’? Maybe. But I am a truth seeker and I wanted to know about my true heritage – ‘without a doubt’. Since I was young I have struggled with the sense of worthlessness, discard or without value. I’ve done all I can to outperform, perfect, and push my own limits. I used to think it was to get my parents love and attention or maybe to capture Gods acceptance or approval? I am starting to think, it was to capture my own attention; to find love for myself despite how damaged or discarded I felt in my core. I heard that children take the negative that happens in life and project it on themselves as their own fault. The example I heard, if parents get divorced or a loved-one passes, children automatically think “what did I do” or “this is my fault”. I am not sure the essence of this ideology, or psychology, but the gist of it resonated with me. How can I love mySELF if I didn’t see myself as loved for who I was; abandoned.

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.

TO BE CONTINED with next week’s Blog ‘April Showers bring May Flowers’.


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!

 

A Relationship Renewed 

A Relationship Renewed | By Terri Krumweide

Difficult relationships can be, well, difficult. When the difficult relationship is with someone you gave birth to, it can be heartbreaking. My son has always been a bit of a challenge. At 11 lbs 11 ounces, he came into this world physically advanced and already more than a handful! I couldn’t keep up with him even then, the kid was just hungry. All. The. Time. I started him on cereal, by the Doctor’s suggestion, at one month. From there, he just seemed to do everything early, roll over, crawl, walk. He even learned to ride a bike without training wheels at 3- I kid you not. Raising a child who is so physically capable, yet not mature enough to control his impulses, was, well you guessed it- difficult.

Lil Ryan and meIn addition to his lack of impulse control, he had to deal with the confusion of being raised separately by two parents with very different discipline styles, a new stepdad, and a new baby sister- not a recipe for success for any kid. I put him in organized sports at age 3, which helped him burn off some of his energy, but my first trip to the principals’ office was his fourth day of kindergarten, and every parent teacher conference was me listening to the teacher tell me how disruptive my son was in class and how all the kids followed his lead. Ritalin was even suggested, which my pediatrician, God bless her, completely rejected. It wasn’t until third grade when he had, which he will still tell you to this day was his favorite teacher, Mr. Peterson, that someone finally understood what my son needed. As I walked into that first conference, head held low waiting to hear the horrors my son had been causing in his class, Mr. Peterson smiled and told me what a good boy my son was and how smart and helpful he was in class. My look of shock made him laugh and when I asked him about him acting up in class he said, “Well if I see Ryan getting a little antsy, I just send him out to run a couple laps on the track and he comes back ready to work.” Eureka!! He had another great teacher the next year, Mr. Mann, but sadly there were many more years of unhappy teachers and trips to the principal’s office, and unfortunately it developed a pattern of me always expecting the worst and constant disappointment, hopelessness and heartache.  And if someone is always expecting the worst of you, it’s pretty easy to deliver.

Teen Ryan and meMy son was not raised in a Christian home. We went to a Catholic church until he was about 14, which does not operate in the grace of God but more on how good you are, which my son was constantly being told by people in authority, he was not. I didn’t get “Saved” until the first time my husband left, and during that time, there was so much pain and so many tears from me and his now 3 sisters’, and that, coupled with the complete devastation of losing the respect of a man he completely looked up to, he found his escape in drugs and alcohol.  Yet another source of great pain and disappointment for a mom that never wanted her children to go down a road she had been down and knew where it led. My goal at that time was pretty much just to get him graduated from high school, which he did, barely, and then he would be on his own and I would not have to be affected by his rebellion and bad choices any longer.

Flash forward to my son as an adult, living back in my house, after several times being kicked out but having just been released from being in jail for five days and having nowhere else to go. There is something about seeing your child ushered into a courtroom in an orange jumpsuit handcuffed to a bunch of scary looking criminals that makes you want to bring them home and keep them safe. I set really strong boundaries, church was mandatory, no drugs, no visitors, get a job, etc and any violation of the rules meant immediate eviction.  At first, he was so compliant and very eager to please, grateful he had a place to live, but as time went on, old behavior patterns kicked in, and he was back in the habit of disappointing and I was in the habit of constantly letting him know it.

Love WorksThen, I signed up for a class at The Father’s House- “Love Works” a program developed and taught by Weyman and Susan Howard, based on 1 Corinthians 13. Compassion is my lowest gifting, so loving other’s well is something I desperately need help with. The first week of class was about patience, first receiving it- I knew my sins had been forgiven but had I ever stopped to think about how patient and long suffering the Lord had been with me in doing that? Had I ever truly received it? As I examined it I was sure of one thing- God never threatened to kick me out of the Kingdom every time I made a mistake, not like I did to my son… Ouch. Next was, kindness, where again we focused on first receiving it from the Lord and then practicing it. I was on my knees constantly for my son and I fiercely loved him, but my thoughts towards him were anything but kind. As we continued into the study, The Lord was softening my heart towards my son and showing me what I needed to let go of “Love doesn’t keep a record of wrongs” Love doesn’t but I sure did and could recite them all back to him at any given moment. When we got to the “Believes All Things, Hopes All Things, Endures All Things” section that’s where The Lord really opened my eyes to what my son needed. When I looked at my son, I saw all the hurt and disappointment of the past, I never saw him how God saw him, I never BELIEVED anything more for him, I had stopped hoping for anything more from him. As I look back and read the things I wrote at that time: “Lord, help me to see my son as you do and to love him like you do, correcting in love.” And “I need to believe that the power of The Holy Spirit can help me to believe good for my son, and to help him resurrect his true identity and be the man God created him to be.” I can assure you that The Lord did. He showed me that Ryan didn’t need to be reminded of all the bad things he’d done, he needed all the goodness in him reaffirmed, and even though he still wasn’t making choices that I necessarily liked or agreed with, I could still operate in love.

My son is a good person with a generous heart, when I looked back on the fights he got into growing up, he was sticking up for the little guy. Although he was never studious and didn’t apply himself in school, my son is really intelligent and learns things easily. Although he could be disrespectful, he is kind and helpful. His physical ability has made him amazing at every sport he’s ever tried. He is great with children; kids and pets love him. It did my momma’s heart so much good to see my son through the eyes of love again. He was more than his mistakes, he was a masterpiece.  God is Love and Love brings renewal. I began treating my son with respect, and I asked for forgiveness when I didn’t, and sure enough, as time went by, the pattern was broken and the relationship was restored. And even when our relationship was tested and we failed sometimes the effort made to love my son well, was truly blessed by The Lord, and I can tell you as I write this, not only has the Lord redeemed my relationship with my son, but He has completely redeemed my son’s life, but that, is a story for another time!


The familyTerri Krumweide lives and works in Escondido. Her greatest achievements in life are her four children, Ryan 31, recently married to the beautiful Alexys, Brianna 28, married to the brilliant Dr Brendan, Miranda, 25 married to the amazing Joey, the proud parents of her adorable first grandbaby, Jeremiah, and her youngest Micaela 21, who is currently away, killing it in college. A couple of her favorite quotes are “Sometimes the greatest thing you can do for the kingdom is not in what you do but in who you raise.” And “There is no greater joy than to know your children are walking in the truth.” All four of her children are amazing servants of God and her constant source of joy is spending time with her family. She also has two golden retrievers, Daisy 5 months and Delilah 5 years, who receive all the nurturing she has to give now that all of her children Daisy and Delilahare out of the house. She spends most of her time walking and pampering her pets, and babysitting the sweetest boy in the whole world, every chance she gets. She also co-leads the ‘Extraordinary Women’ women’s group at church where she loves connecting with the ladies of The Father’s House and friends. She is always looking for new ministry opportunities where she can utilize the gifts The Lord has blessed her with to serve others and to help further the kingdom. If you want to know more- get connected with her- she is always looking to make new friends!