Things I learned about God from Livvy

Things I learned about God from Livvy Lou | By Bethany Luchetta

I sat outside eating Brunch last week in Newport Beach with a longtime friend from Sydney who happened to be in town doing some music stuff. We don’t get together too often anymore, but it always picks up where we left off; like not much time has passed. You may have those friendships too. They are not without work, and there are historic up’s and down’s; but they last over time. Needless to say, after almost 20 years of friendship, there is more shared history, than unshared history. We talked about churches in the OC. I mentioned walking into a new satellite location in OC of a popular LA church, and immediately feeling old. He chuckled and said, “Thank you. right!? I get that.” I TOTALLY did not expect that response from him, I put him in the ‘young and cool’ category – opposite the table from my aging and ‘not-so-cool’ category. He isn’t even that much younger than me. He’s a music producer, and I’m pretty much a ‘stay at home’ mom now (not to dig on stay-at-home-moms, but let’s face it, we aren’t living the music producer life).  He said he has had this shared experience, as he looks around to comment on his experience, ‘we are the parents?!’. I was 17 when my mom was my age, so that really hits home. We got to reminisce of things we are now learning, but learning from our own offspring instead of our parents or school.

I came home and reflected on the lessons I have been learning about God from my very own Livvy Lou. Here they are for you to ponder, if you haven’t already gleaned these from your own little bambinos.

  1. Running Ahead Before Listening

I am not talking about literally running, although this could be practical for some moms with rambunctious ones. Livvy is a lot like me, and she thinks she knows everything. So, why take the time to sit, acquire and listen, when we can jump into it BECAUSE we already know. It hit me the other day when I said it out loud. Since I am a word person, typically I notice things when they are said verbally; it just resonates with me. I was trying to help Livvy put things into groups in order to count, and then recognize the groups without having to recount again. But, she already knew! Of course, she knows everything, she’s 4. How could I forget. No lessons, self-taught! Then I said out loud, “Livvy, you can’t run ahead before you stop and listen so you know what to do next!” — And there’s the ah-ha moment as I hear God say “Yes, Bethany, please don’t run out ahead, thinking you already know, without stopping to listen for my voice of direction.” Conviction. I have to literally stop talking while I am trying to teach her, and say, “Livvy Lou, mommy struggles with this too. And we both need to work on this. Why don’t we try and work on this together?” Since she is so inquisitive I had to give specific examples, which I did, and helped her understand how this can be a life lesson she works on. That also gave me more grace for her.

  1. Wanting Things Instead of Time

Things are not bad. We all need things. Some people even express their love language with gifts. I get that. And ‘having’ is not bad. I believe it’s when our focus becomes the things, we get off balance. Livvy loves things. Anything from a tube a chapstick to an expensive Ipad. She doesn’t understand the value of money, so those are the same to her. Small gifts are better for her, she feels love and I can give them more often; win-win. But, like most humans, we can get distracted with the things we want. Livvy starts to ask for more, and more, and more. This mommy gets really annoyed because I get stumped between spoiling, meeting her love language and her being naïve on the cost of things. So, I said to her (aloud of course, as to hear God speak through my own mouth to myself), “Livvy, honey, can you please just be okay sitting with me, talking to me, snuggling me. Why do you always ask for things? That’s not how our relationship will grow.” BAM! OUCH… Yes, God. I heard you. I stop and look little Lou Lou in the eyes and say, “You know honey, ‘things’ aren’t bad. I want to give you things. But I also want to just be WITH you. I have a hard time with this too. Let’s both work on it more.” You may think, what an odd way to talk to a 4-year old. Well, I was never a lady to use baby talk, she’s human, I speak to her normally. And trust me, she gets it.

There are several more, but I will leave you with this last one.

  1. Forgetting What Was Just Said

Yep, if you have kids, you know exactly what I am saying. Be it, they were distracted by their sibling, a show, or a toy… they forget what you said in 2 seconds. Parenting is a long exhortation of constant reminding. Let’s hope they outgrow it – at least a little. But, look at the Israelites. Look at ANYONE. We set our mind to something, and bang, we are distracted. Yes, there are exceptions to this rule. There are always exceptions. But the moment I said, “Livvy, when are you going stop getting distracted and forgetting what I just said?!” – Again, I hear God audibly (in my own voice, yet again) – “Hmmm… Yes Dear, when will you?!” He’s so gentle and sweet. I almost cried on this one. Livvy looked at me, and slowed down as if she had disappointed me. She said, “Mamma, what are your feelings?” – because it looked like I was going to cry. I answered the same as before, we both need to work on this one. I am going to practice compassion on you, and you can practice it on me too. But we will both keep working on following and staying on course.

Maybe you have learned something AWEsome like this too. Share it below in the comments for us all to read!


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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 (18), Paige (14), and Livvy Lou (4). If you see them, reach out and say hi!

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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What’s Love Got to Do With It?

What’s Love Got to Do With It? | By Sonya Finley

Featured image from: (https://www.walsallcollege.ac.uk)

A couple of weeks ago, my “blogger in crime”ended her post with the question, “What if we considered how we loved our children as a measurement of success?” Well, I ask you, “What if we considered how we loved people (all people) as a measurement of success?”

These days, there is a lot of discussions centered on diversity, inclusion and unconscious bias. The responses range from defensive anger, to candid conversations, to denying its importance. Even you, as you read this may have a polarizing reaction based on what you have read, heard, or experienced. But have we really taken the time to see what those words truly mean? And what does it have to do with loving others?

As a person of color, my default meaning of diversity and inclusion is the never-ending fight to belong, to be included, to be seen, heard, and accepted for being me. Understanding bias is accepting the fact that when I go shopping I will be followed by a sales clerk who tries to hide it by surreptitiously fixing a rack of clothes that don’t need fixing at all because she believes I will steal (yeah, that happens a lot). This vision is based on my own experiences, yet they are certainly not the only way these concepts can be experienced.  Diversity, inclusion, and unconscious bias encompass so much more than just race relations.

I recently had the opportunity to hear Dr. Aaron Bruce, Chief Diversity Officer at SDSU, present on this topic. He was African-American and has experienced marginalization because of his race, but his presentation was not race-centered. It was presented in a way that greatly expanded the attendees’ understanding of what those big ol’ words mean on a much larger scale. He pointed out how all humans have biases against a variety of characteristics—gender, race, ethnicity, religion, socio-economic status, background, education, physical abilities, politics—the list is endless.

Here are a few highlights from what I found to be a powerful and enlightened presentation:

  • “Equality is about ensuring everybody has an equal opportunity, and is not treated differently or discriminated against because of their characteristics. Diversity is about taking account of the differences between people and groups of people, and placing a positive value on those differences.”Equality is not enough. The goal is diversity or in this case equity. Dr. Bruce explained this concept using the illustration of three different people, one tall, one short, and one in a wheel chair,all trying to see over a fence to watch a game. Equality says give them all the same crate to stand on—which is fair but still does not enable everyone to
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    Original image concept Craig Froehle

    see over the fence. Equity considers their differences and gives them what they need to achieve the same goal. One person (the tall one) needs nothing, the other (the short one) needs double crates and the third one (in the wheel chair) needs something totally different. This reminds me of what parents do when they have more than one child. Each child is different and so, understanding this, they may employ different methods to raise a healthy, happy, successful adult. Equity is giving everyone what theyneed to be successful and understanding that it may not look the same for all.

  • “If you are not intentionally including, you are unintentionally excluding.”This was kind of my “aha” moment. He proved his point by engaging us in an exercise where we listed our top ten “ride or die” friends (your “go to” homies that know you best). Then asked us to note which ones matched us in characteristics such as, gender, race, age, social class, and sexual orientation. Not surprisingly, for most, our friends looked very much like us. Dr. Bruce let us know this was not a negative, it just highlighted the fact that people are naturally drawn to other people who are like them. Because of this, we may find ourselves within an exclusive community—unintentional, but exclusive all the same. So, since it is not our natural inclination to engage with those who are different, in order to achieve diversity and inclusion, we have to intentionally step out of our comfort zone and seek out those that are different.

 

  • Unconscious biases are social stereotypes about certain groups of people that individuals form outside their own consciousawareness. Racial prejudice is pretty straight forward and needs no definition. Implicit or unconscious biases, not so much. Biases are those generalities we apply to whole groups of people even though we have only experienced it with a few. They are those unconscious feelings we have that influence our judgement of certain people and how we may treat or react to them. These biases can be determined by a number of things; lifestyle, media, environment, experiences, or how we were raised. For example, the media constantly bombards us with the stereotype that fat/overweight people are lazy, ugly, and unhealthy. And while you may not purposely be mean to people like that, you may find yourself judging their eating habits, changing yours, and vowing to lose weight so you never find yourself in their place. Your conscious mind says you would never treat a fluffyperson differently, but your reaction to them is different than your reaction to a slender person would be.

So what does love got to do with this? Dr. Bruce ended his presentation with the concept of empathy (which is a key component of love). “When it comes to the inability to practice empathy/love, lack of exposure to or an understanding of other people or cultures is the primary culprit.” We are called to love one another in the way Jesus loved us—with unmerited grace, mercy, and without boundaries or conditions. To do this, we must intentionally step outside of our own likenesses and like-minded communities. We must be authenticand seek to understand our own identities—what are our triggers and fears. We must practice active listening, turning off our inner voices and focusing on the other person. We must get curious, assume a learning mindset and find out what has shaped the other person’s life. We must respect and connectby being more open and respectful of one another. Doing all this leads to empathy and understanding of the world around us. Only then will we be able to say we truly love people as we have been called to do.

Yeah, that’s what lovegot’sto do with it.


20170113_074913-1-1Sonya 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.

April showers bring May flowers…

April showers bring May flowers | By Bethany Sousa

For me, Springtime has typically been associated with the word refreshing and newness in my mind through the years. Probably because I automatically picture fresh tulips on my parents dining table growing up as a child. With Mother’s Day still on my mind, I find myself reflecting on all the mothers that have been in, and around, my life so far. All the wonderful jewels they have each placed in my crown of feminine identity and social womanhood. What a crown they have built for me, and I get to wear it proudly every day!

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79ideas.org Photo Credit

However, it wasn’t always so simple and easy for me to receive such wisdom with grace and understanding. Along with refreshing and newness, Spring also brings maturity. Now there’s a word I probably would’ve never associated with Spring prior to today – maturity. For all those women who have poured such wisdom into my life, I had no idea they were instilling a mature femininity into the way I would live my life out.

It’s quite fascinating for me to look back and recall all the “ah-ha” moments of gaining a new perspective, or patiently working out the painful moments of maturing. One of the greatest words of wisdom I gained from a woman in my mid 20’s was about how sometimes the harvest of God’s promise takes us through the long way around, similar to the Israelites. Now that was a very loose translation, but I’m sure you get the idea. They had to “work out their faith” so to speak, for many years before being able to receive the fullness of the promise land. Time for me, meant waiting on the Lord in His non-linear timing. For example, waiting on the Lord to fulfill a prophetic word, or a dream, or even a desire that weighs heavy on the heart. Well, I was all of these examples! Finding myself questioning His involvement at times, and even asking was He even involved anymore or did He skip out on me for a little? It was quite the opposite!

He graciously asked me one day what Spring meant to me and what I saw when I thought of it. My response was a field of flowers, similar to the Carlsbad field of flowers. What He spoke next blew my immature mentality out into a maturity I had no idea I was in need of. He showed me a picture of small little sprouts budding out of rich soil. Rows and rows of sprouts. Then He said, “Bethany, this is Spring. Behold, I will make all things new. You have plowed and worked the field, look and see that I am good. Spring isn’t always a time of reaping abundance. It is also a time of new beginnings and starting over”. I felt such a freedom from an old way of thinking. No longer did I have to pressure myself with an expectation of having to see a full field of harvest, but now I can rejoice in the simplest of refreshing and newness that the Lord is working out through me!

Featured Image Photo Credit: OgNature.org

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cityuniversity.ca Photo Credit


IMG_3304BETHANY is a singer/songwriter currently living in Nashville, TN. Her dream and desire is to partner with other artists collaboratively to help bring awareness to the audience an awakening of purpose. In today’s western culture, we have focused too music on selfish ego and not enough on the bigger picture–we’re all here for a purpose, and we all play an important role in achieving that goal in each other  Art is such an intense expression and tool to use to help awaken peoples minds and souls of their own existence. Music heals us mentally and spiritually, and one of her main goals is to help bring that healing, one song at a time.

 

Coffeehouse Conversations

Coffeehouse Conversations | By Sonya Finley

Hey girl, good morning! Give me a hug. Good to see you. Oh yeah, I already got my coffee. Yes a Venti! Ha ha! You got me out early. I needed something to wake me up. Go on and get yours. I’ll grab us a table outside in the sun.

How am I doing? Me? Girl, I’m fine. Putting one foot in front of the other. Keeping it moving.  You know me, that’s how I roll.

What? Be honest?  Yeah, I hear ya.

So, well, if I am completely honest, I am having a bit of a struggle these days. Oh, you knew that, huh? Okay. Well anyway, for most of my life I have fought with an identity crisis. Whether it was from things spoken into me, experiences that left wounds, or unfairly comparing myself to others—I just never quite felt “enough”. I know who I am now, having gone through an incredible season of God defining my identity and showing who He has called me to be. And yet, and yet. . . .

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And yet, one word of criticism couched in the guise of “mentorship” from a person in authority over me takes me all the way back to feeling inadequate. One word subtly suggesting that a change be made to a core personality trait that will make me more appealing to a minor minority who “doesn’t’ get me”.  It leaves me helpless, defensive and not a little angry. And sister, that is not a good look on me.

So, I began, again, the cycle of questioning myself, my actions, my perspective, my “me”. I began, again, to wonder, is there something wrong with me? Should I change certain things about me to suit someone else’s ideals because maybe they see things from their vantage point that I can’t see? So I began, again, to retreat inside myself. And again, I am lost, struggling to find me, the “who” that I am deep down inside. Sigh….

identityWhat’s that? I am who God says I am? Girl, I have that taped to my bathroom wall as a daily affirmation!  It is there with a list of others and my eye lands on it just when I need it. No greater truth needed and such a timely reminder. I am who God says I am! Regardless of what man says or how he criticizes. I have been created for a purpose and for such a time as this. The “me” that He created, the “me” that I have grown to be, is okay. This doesn’t mean I am perfect. It doesn’t mean I won’t make mistakes, say the wrong thing or be misunderstood. It doesn’t mean that I will always be accepted by everyone I meet. But it does mean that who I am is okay and because of who I am, I am totally useable in God’s plan.

I will probably still struggle with that. Thorn in the flesh and all that, but yeah, you’re right. When the thoughts arise, I can use that statement to remind myself of who I really am. My identity is not dependent on what people think or say about me or even how I feel about myself. I am who God says I am. And that’s that. . .

So how are things with you?

Oh I’m sorry to hear things are not falling into place as you hoped. That can make moving forward or even staying encouraged extremely difficult. I totally get that. Many of us find ourselves right there. It’s the waiting for something to happen and not feeling like it will, that discourages you.

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Yeah, I know that place. Praying and praying for God to intervene in a situation and not seeing it happen as soon as we’d like. It is discouraging and it is easy to lose faith. That’s how it is for me with my son. I have been praying for years through his drug usage, bouts of homelessness, attempted suicides, and brushes with law.  And to me, it seems as though change is coming slowly—oh so slowly. And there are times when something happens and it seems that the situation goes right back to the beginning.  I just want my son to be okay.

But as I sit here with you, thinking on your situation and mine, I am reminded of yet another statement of affirmation on my bathroom wall: God can do what He says He can do.

‘Nuff said! Oh but I know. It gets hard on a sister. All this waiting and anticipating and feeling like the nothing could possibly fix the situation. But hey, just like you told me, when those thoughts began to come, just remind yourself that God can (and will) do just what He said. Keep telling yourself that till it overrides anything else that may want to set up shop in your mind. God’s got this. You just keep living life expecting it.

And yes, my son is doing better these days. But you know us momma’s, we want the best for our children, right?

Oh, you heard about me doing the Freedom Challenge? Yeah. Women joining together to raise money and awareness for human trafficking by climbing mountains. Yes, you heard me, mountains.

You’re amazed I’m doing it? So am I. And if I am being completely honest, I am more than a little afraid. I admit it. I be “scurred”.

What am I scared of?  Not meeting the fundraising goals. Not being able to keep up on with the other ladies. Not being able to complete the challenge.

Oh you got jokes? My bad, you got another quote? I can do all things through Christ?  Wow, another statement from my wall of affirmations! We are three for three!

But you are right. I got this! As long as I look up for my strength and not rely on what I see or feel like—cuz you know a sister can get in her feelings—I can complete this challenge. I will complete this challenge. Any challenge. And when I think I can’t, I will use that statement to remind me that I can.

Well, girl. I gotta get out of here. The boys are wanting to go to a movie. What’s that? Where did I get the statements from?  Beth Moore’s book, Believing God….

God is who He says He is. God can do what He says He can do. I am who God says I am. I can do all things through Christ. God’s Word is alive and active in me.” 
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Beth MooreBelieving God

Asian Women Chatting over CoffeeLord, thank you for sister-friends who allow and compel us to be transparent, authentic, and venerable. Bless us to understand the need to reach out for and allow ourselves to receive the love and support being offered to us so that we may know that we are not alone on this journey. As we allow ourselves to reach out and admit our need, send those who will walk with us, stand with us, and pray with us in sisterhood and in love. Amen.


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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.