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.

Love & Tragedy

Love & Tragedy | by Bethany Luchetta

My heart starts to race. I am angry. I let it linger, fester, grow into outright rage. We are human; all susceptible to whims of fleeting emotions. But, where is my trust during tragedy? Do I fire-off political unrest, race induced beliefs, religious anger, conspiracy theories, or lobbyist topics? Where do I put my energy? How can I bring my elevated heart rate back down to a trusting place and learn from what I am feeling? How can I learn about myself from my own thought patterns and feelings? After all, they are my own. I stop to consider this, but I come to the conclusion that it’s easier to banter about someone else’s thoughts and feelings and actions and words, than consider my own. So, I fire off a social media post attempting to relieve myself of my own fear on a public platform hoping for validation. I achieve momentary satisfaction from people who agree with me, but am again quickly angered by those who do not agree. The cycle is addicting because it takes me away from the issue; my own heart.

We are only responsible for our own elevated heart rate that could indicate fear, insecurity or anger in the recesses of our heart and mind. Once we feel this elevated emotion ignite, it gives us the ability to locate where we confide our trust. We can change the world one heart at a time if we begin inside our chest.

170907-st-martin-irma-mn-1140_16097ca5c5bf8814cb38d752367c5636.nbcnews-fp-1240-520Grieving people may take offense to this topic being submitted in the twilight of their loss. I am not writing to hurt anyone, but to offer peace. It takes my breath away in deep sorrow for the three people I know who lost someone last week at the hand of evil. There are people grieving today from the loss of their homes from fires, and still others in dire straights from recent disasters. Every person has a different vantage point. People are passion inspired from original stories of their own. It’s helpful to stop and listen; to build relationships while we are here, where you can. You love me and we bond over our similarities, but we can disagree and yet respect our differences. It’s respect of differences that makes us the same.

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We thank God for the ones who were spared
from fire, flood, and gunshot. We thank God when we are spared. And we should be thankful. I struggle with thinking someone was spared only because they had Faith in God. Many who have faith in God are not spared. The Bible speaks loudly to the fact that those who believe are still exposed. So, yes, be thankful for being spared, and for those spared around you. But we already know those who believe will fall along with those who do not believe. Destruction and death leaves us grieving. It hurts, I am not denying that. It seems so cliché to quote the Bible when people are hurting.

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So, we blame God for those who are not spared
. Have you ever been in a relationship where you were forced to love the other person? Sounds toxic and suffocating, doesn’t it? Not much of a relationship if you ask me. Well, if you believe in God, aren’t you glad you aren’t forced to engage, or agree, with Him? From what was etched about the philosophy of God, we are created to act in ‘Free Will’. A ‘Will’ to believe in Him, or not to believe. We have a capacity for good or evil; for thinking. Case-in-point; people choosing to be evil. We are capable of great and wonderful feats of amazement! Just look into the eyes of your child (if you have one), the proof is right in front of you. It may be too much and you decide there is no God. If you don’t believe in God, you may also be glad no one can force you to believe otherwise. At any rate, you may agree that life is precious. We want to point blame when tragedy happens. History is full of sorrowful, sensual, thoughtful and profound acts created by ‘humankind’, and nature alike. The question may forever be asked, ‘why’? This question may never be answered, or then again, the answer may resonate inside of you. The God I know begs you to ask this question, if not to tear down walls and become vulnerable, maybe to find His heart in an answer to your own soul.

vessels-ministry-the-heart-of-god-lightSo, if God is real, then who serves a God who made a human race capable of horrid things? How can nature destroy senselessly? This is a deep conversation; possibly the one that divides faith, religions and belief systems so severely. Who am I to argue with your conviction? I can only tell you what I believe, you may shake your fist indicating, ‘she’s an ignorant believer’. I am a believer. I am a believer in a God who made my Universe; the Divine. I am not a believer in religion, or church, or a denomination. I am a believer in Love. I believe I was made to love. I believe this little light of mine was made to shine. I believe in a God who loves bigger than I can ever express and who granted us faith to trust that His eternal plan is greater than the temporary physical life we sensationalize (literally experiencing with just our 5 senses). I believe that believers die too; sometimes horrid deaths. God is not here to be a magic potion for our human problems. We can’t pray away the Earth’s pangs. We all are subject to physical decay and death, accidents, misuse, abuse, bad choices and so on. I believe when we trust God, we are able to have a solid knowing that life is eternal. We are here to grow with each other, to experience relationship with other humans; to grow our forever spirit. I believe that when evil takes lives, life doesn’t cease to exist. I believe we are far more than physical beings, we are spirits beings. I believe spirits live forever… And in this truth, I hold my hope and trust.

In moments of heighten emotions during tragedies take note of your own heart, breathe and refocus to the most important thing: souls. Take the time to locate your pain, offer compassion to yourself and others. And most importantly, remember that LOVE is still greater.


IMG_2727Bethany Luchetta is a writer of life and love and tragedy. 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!

Table for One

Table for One | by Sonya Finley

I have been single for over 23 years – say what now?! And oh, the stories I could tell – but that, my dear reader, is the subject for another blog.

There are a variety of issues we face every day as single women in the church – raising children alone, managing finances, navigating car repairs, being labeled, ostracized, or even left out.  These issues often have nothing to do with a desire for companionship and/or a physical relationship. However, while there is so much more to living “la vida” single, singles ministries often fall short of providing necessary and practical tools for successful living. Instead we often find that ministries focus on marriage preparation and empowering us with the ability to “just say no” (if you know what I mean). Because of this we often find ourselves feeling uncomfortable, unsatisfied, and ungrateful in our singleness. Subsequently, quite a few of us will spin our wheels, jump through hoops, or “hide ourselves in the Lawd” to find that Godly man that He has prepared just for us.

Single_Ladies_(TV_series)_title_cardBut ladies, what about in the meantime – the time between the hoop jumping and the actual fulfillment of God’s promise to you? How will you approach this stage in which you find yourself?  Don’t have a clue? Do not worry! I offer you ten practical things you can do to live a gratifying life while you just happen to be single (after 23 years, I should, right?).

  1. Accept your situation. You’re single. You are not married. You may not get married in the near future, and there is the possibility you may not get married at all. This may not be the life you dreamt of, but it is the life you have been blessed with. And what a blessing it is – if you pay attention. Tough love coming at you: Spending an excessive amount of time reflecting on past relationships or visualizing your future husband is a subtle form of denial, and an outright refusal to deal with where you are right now. You are single. Deal with it. Press into it. You will find you are right where you need to be.
  2. Be honest about your feelings. Of course, if you are not yet content being single, say that. I give you permission. If you are harboring bitterness or anger because of your situation, admit to it. This is important. We cannot be healed and cannot align ourselves to our situation if we don’t truly admit where we are. If you are not feeling the single life, that’s okay – just don’t stay there. Admit your need and allow God to move on your behalf. Admission brings about the changes needed to walk in freedom.INB-table-plate-FPO
  3. Let go of the fear of being alone. I don’t need to remind you that the Bible speaks against fear. Fear is not of God. Fear is a dangerous thing. Fear will make you allow anything into your life just to have a man. Women with fear stay in bad relationships because “a bad man is better than no man and doing it alone.”  Fear will keep you from realizing what God has in store for you. Trust God’s plan in your life, even if that means being by yourself for a time. You will be okay.
  4. Get a social life – one that does not revolve around service to the church. Yeah, that is what I said. Be honest. Do you have something to do or people to hang out with when nothing has been planned by your local church? No? Well, you should. How many times have you sat at home alone and lonely because nothing was going on at church. Get out and have some fun, gurl! Call a friend from work and go hang out. No friends? Take a Latin dance class or join a Meet-Up group with people of like interests. Fill your life with laughter, fun and friends, and you’ll be surprised how good you feel being single.4
  5. Do not fall for the “Okey Doke”. You are single, and to some, that may be a negative – a shortcoming of sorts. Without meaning to, folks will define you by their negative (or pity filled) reaction to your lack of or desire for a companion, and you may find yourself falling into agreement with their assessment (the Sunken Place). Do not accept the negative labels. Do not be defined by your situation. That is not who you are. Singleness is just your current state, and gurl, it is by no means cause for pity.
  6. Take care of you. Do I really need to spell this out? Do for yourself. Make time for you. And don’t give me excuses about having kids – I raised four, with a job – sometimes two! Although I learned the hard way, I did learn the importance of making time to do for me. I used to take what I called “artist dates” and my sons were trained to understand and respect mommy’s time. That time spent doing something just for me made me feel refreshed, rejuvenated, and re-centered. It empowered me to be the best version of myself and to find beauty and appreciate the life I had.
  7. Stop waiting! Yeah, you over there waiting to start living for when you finally get a man and finally get married. Don’t! Get a move on it. What are you waiting on? And please do not recite the scripture about “waiting on the Lord”. I am pretty sure you sitting around letting life pass you by is not what God had in mind when He inspired that scripture. NOW is the time to do something – anything – that keeps you actively involved in your life.note-to-self-you-gotta-do-this-for-you-this-16404756
  8. Always look your best – from the inside out. (The Fashionista’s words to live by!) Getting your attitude in line will give you a beautiful glow that moves past all the surface stuff. This does not mean you should neglect your outer appearance. Be fierce! Not for the men you think it will attract, but for your own self confidence.
  9. Get your finances together – Now! Don’t wait for a man to come along and rescue you from your debt. Make steps today to get financially secure.
  10. “To thine ownself be true.”  Honor yourself. Do not allow yourself to be belittled or dismissed because you are single. Know what God says about you and walk in that.

No worries, gurl. You got this.

 


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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.