Clean Slate | Special Song Included

Clean Slate | by Bethany Sousa

-Scroll to her bio for the video link to her song

When I think of spring, I think of renewal. I think of getting a second change. I think of cleansing and vulnerability with myself emotionally and spiritually. Seasons of transition and change in life cause a lot of clutter and damage to ourselves. I for one believe that Spring is the greatest time to purge those cluttered parts of our hearts, minds, and emotions. It’s quite incredible how much clutter we can each accumulate through life. Each and every single one of us carry a unique and individual suitcase, filled with specific life choices we either did or didn’t intentionally make. Yet, no matter what path our choices lead us through, we are always able to seek grace and freedom through Christ. He will always be near ready to take our hand and walk with us through the struggle of surrendering that bulky suitcase filled with so much clutter such as: shame, regret, self esteem, lack of courage, fear, anger, confusion, etc. Now, my story is specific to me and how I heard God through my own clutter, but I believe it will be encouraging to someone searching for similar freedom.

 
​It’s 2016 and my emotions are falling apart. Everything I held dear in my world was fading away. Nothing seemed to be moving forward – only standing still. I took a huge leap of faith and followed a tug on my heart to move to Nashville. I had NO idea what was going to be here waiting for me, all I knew was that God had already gone before me. At least that’s what I felt Him continually whisper in my heart. And boy was He serious. I arrived and immediately life came alive in me! My first day in town I met up with a friend and I got a connection of a lifetime with a producer, started getting work, the creative juices were flowing! Life was really moving for me in ways I never imagined. I thought Nashville was going to be a place of rest, a place of transition before a city like New York or London. I had no intention on staying here longer than 3-6 months. But little did I know God had something else in mind. I found an incredible church, moved into a townhouse with a friend, started making friends, got a decent job… Yes life was looking pretty good for me. Until I prayed a very unique prayer.

images ​It’s the new year and I always write a small list of things I desire to accomplish for the year. This one was particularly different because I threw in a few fun goals as well as a few challenging ones. My prayer consisted of asking God to clean house in my heart emotionally and financially. To heal and to restore broken parts of my heart. Without getting into too many details, my life slowly began to crumble. Leaving my job due to some unfortunate situations. Going under financial wreckage. Having nothing familiar close by that I was used to running away to. Life was in emotional chaos for me. My reality was quickly shattering the fantasy of my life I thought I was working so hard to build. Again, without getting into too many details, I was at a bare boned empty. In debt larger than I could understand. Yet, still, I could hear that faint – “I have gone before you” still whispering in my heart.

 
​I realize not everyone reading this has gone through a complete overhaul of their life, but there’s something powerful about asking God to take a closer look and actually letting Him. In these past couple of years His hand has guided, protected, and provided in ways I couldn’t even imagine. There were days when I had 7$ to my name and I didn’t get paid for 10 days and some how I was able to pay for gas, or food. I made a conscious decision to not let the clutter of my emotional life continue to get in the way of how I was called to fulfill and live out my calling. I didn’t do it alone, but I did have to make the decisions and work it out on my own. I decided I wanted to be debt free by the time I was 30, and that meant I needed to hustle. Lesson one – financial freedom – and to trust that God has my everything, including my finances.

 
​Then there was lesson 2, relationships. This was a deep and challenging lesson to work through. For my own sanity, I believe God knew I needed space to deal and heal from my life in a space where time was slowed down and people were loving and trusting. Transitioning into a southern pace of life has actually healed my hurts and pains that I either put there myself, or others had. Really taking the time to get a deep look, and actually really forgive, not just myself but family and friends too, I had to trust God with my heart. Trust Him, and no other man. He is the ultimate protector and lover, if I can’t trust Him, then how else would I love another? There is no perfect family, and no perfect person in this world, and my attempt to hide behind all my disappointments in others was no longer a cop-out I was allowed to hide behind.

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​I really had to learn a valuable lesson in vulnerability with the Holy Spirit. If I stay humble and grateful, even in the midst of pain, I will get to witness His grace. His beautiful and redeeming grace. I can’t count all the occasions I was lost in the wreckage so much that I count look up to see He was protecting me. However I have been able to reflect back and look at all He has done to redeem and restore me. I haven’t lived enough to have all the answers, but I have made enough mistakes to witness mercy and grace.


Click on this link for her blog video:

Bethany’s Song

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BETHANY 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.

 

March Madness

March Madness | by Bethany Luchetta

Do you ever feel like you’re trapped? Or like the fire-in-your-heart went out? Maybe because you didn’t get married at the ‘right’ age. You never had kids. Had kids. Got divorced. Never finished college. Work too much. Don’t have enough money. Aren’t as smart as the next person. Are too tired.  Have physical or mental limitations that prevent you from moving towards your dreams. Or maybe you just feel like you don’t own an original thought/emotion/creative bone/spiritual idea that is worthwhile. I am here to inform you, you are not alone. And IN your story, there is greatness.

I had been percolating on this March Madness blog for some time and nothing was coming to me. I wanted to assimilate it with the Daughters Event on March 17 – ‘Miracles in the Mess’. I even contemplated changing the blog title to March Messness. I thought about outlining people who failed and got-back-up-again to find success. I wanted to tell you about women in history who were faced with adversity, yet still accomplished greatness. Then, I switched to “you’re never too old”; she did something noteworthy after mid-life. Maybe write about ladies who, even in their storm, were able to pursue their heart-call. But after spending way too much time reading about people and things, I decided that I wanted you to be the story.

I am in the middle of a life transition, or several. I am starting to think we are always in one, or coming out of one, or about to go into one. The more stories I hear from other ladies, the more human I feel. We all have ‘stuff’ – none of us get out of childhood unscathed. Once adults, we seem to have seasons of feeling great, and others ‘not so great’. Is there anything we can do to limit the mess and madness?

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HOMEWORK: Ask yourself the ‘why’ question.

Why am I overwhelmed right now?

Why am I filled with anxiety right now?

Why am I sad right now?

Why am I frustrated right now?

Do tell! What does this have to do with March Madness-Messness? You may find that as you ask yourself the outlined following questions, you begin getting in touch with deeper feelings (which may or may not cause some messiness). The deeper feelings almost always dwindle down to shame. Shame has a way of robbing us of our potential. The real answers, and the real healing within them, are where the ‘Miracles in the Mess’ happen.

I made this chart from the things I have learned in my readings and courses on this process. This is a very basic chart, yet I have found it helpful (there are several other steps, if you have interest, reach out).

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I will use a personal example to show you how to work these steps:

The Feeling: A sales lady at Home Depot ‘sells’ me with some lies and deception when purchasing shutters. I get frustrated. Like, lose-my-emotions-all-the-way-home frustrated. Like, can’t play with Livvy or talk to Vince frustrated. Like, I feel like crying or posting a horrid one-star review on yelp frustrated. Like, I am looking super cool, calm and collected, yet stuffing all my feelings, but wanting to scream out loud frustrated. Outlandish emotions sound familiar?

The ‘Why’: I can go about my day and try not to be frustrated, go for run, have some wine, call a friend to vent, or try to pray it away. #2 Or I can ask myself ‘WHY’ am I feel so out-out-whack frustrated with this lady.

Deeper Feelings: So, then I analyze how I felt when this happened. I felt: abuse, used, coerced, domineered, played, bad, unworthy and unimportant. You may think that these are some pretty intense feelings for being lied to by a sales person at Home Deport. Some people may have just brushed-it-off, taken business elsewhere, or told the person how they felt. But I was not in my adult mind, so that’s not what happen.

Associated Situation: When I say this, it is very specific to the reduction of the situation. Dr. John Bradshaw (theologian, psychologist, philosopher) explains that our foundation is set before the chemicals change in our body (before puberty). In circumstances where your emotions outweigh the reality of the situation, it is an indicator to look back on your childhood and identify what part of you was stuck in your current interaction (lady at Home Depot). The easiest way to do this is to look back on the deeper feelings you identified and ask yourself, ‘when I was young, in what situation did I feel like this?’. Bradshaw says in asking this, you will find the part of you that is wounded/stuck. My deeper feelings immediately echoed when I was abused at age 4. As soon as I reduced my current feeling to an unhealed wound, I began crying. Until I heal this shameful wound, I will repeat these frustrating situations in my adult life that rob me of potential to ‘Grow up in Christ’.

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Forgiveness: The last part isn’t always easy or popular. I am not talking about forgiving the sales lady. I am talking about cutting myself loose from my perpetrator. There are tons of resources out there on processing forgiveness. I am defining forgiveness as cutting yourself loose from strings keeping you tied to the thing or person. Sometimes forgiveness requires forgiveness of self, and in this case, you may need someone else to help guide you through that process.

These discoveries may be messy, painful, and sometimes, unbearable. If you get stuck, come back to them later. But, commit to your whole healing. Once you are able to heal through the wounds you identify, then you will be more capable of dealing with the reality of your adult life in situations. I was able to go back and confront the sales lady in a calm manner. I didn’t have to stuff my emotions inside, allowing them to eat-away-at-me. I used the truth to encourage myself; I am an adult, I am not a child, I have choices, I am capable, I am not stuck and I won’t be used. This indeed is God’s miracle working power in our lives, in the mess.


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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 (14), and Livvy Lou (3). If you see them, reach out and say hi!

 

Back to School; College Perspective!

Back to School; College Perspective | By Lila Smith

“There is no growth in your comfort zone and no comfort in your growth zone.” -Anonymous

As we all know, life is a constant cycle of change. It’s exciting. Overwhelming. Scary. Hard. Emotional. Every time a new school year comes around, I tend to be all too familiar with these emotions, at a higher level than usual.

In just a few days, I will be loading everything up and getting ready to enter into my sophomore year of college at GCU. My experience in college so far has been full of fun experiences, awesome friendships, insightful classes, and a deeper growth with my Savior, everyday. But in the midst of all of these great things, there has also been anxiety, discomfort, heartbreak, and homesickness. As a result, I am learning to daily rely on Jesus alone. To lay my struggles and worries at the cross, instead of trying to deal with or solve them on my own.

Messages Image(1924536944)My freshman year the Lord really planted a desire in my heart. The desire to build relationships with others, and to be someone who is there for listening and understanding them. I felt very called to apply for the position as life leader at my school. From my perspective, this is the dream – to get to share the Gospel with the girls God placed on my floor, and to be a safe place for them to bring their worries, insecurities, and struggles. This opportunity I am about to take is both exciting and exhilarating. But it is also terrifying. I do not feel qualified enough for this job, and I have to constantly remind myself again and again everyday to not compare myself to others and to their talents and abilities.

As nerve-racking as it may seem in my head, I am welcoming in this new season of change with open arms. I am jumping in head first to this position which God has called me. And, I am trusting Him to supply all my needs.

My freshman year alone, I left a changed person. The experiences I had, the people I met, the relationships that deepened, the classes I took; all shaped me in ways I never could have seen or imagined before going to GCU. Here are some of the things the Lord taught me, which I find to be helpful wherever you are in life right now:

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  1. Make time EVERYDAY for YOU and JESUS; Make HIM your BEST friend

Bible studies, chapel, worship nights, and even church just won’t cut it. Relationships grow from one-on-one moments. Make him your number one, all other friends and family can come next. We look like the friends we hang out with, so why wouldn’t we want to hang out with Jesus?

  1. Be INTENTIONAL

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Go out of your way to show people you care about them and want to get to know them and/or spend time with them. Make plans. Stick to the plans.

  1. IRON sharpens IRON (Proverbs 27:17)

The people you spend time with influence you, and vice versa. Make sure your peers are lifting you up, not pushing you down. Healthy relationships make a healthy, happy you.

  1. Get INVOLVED

Whether it’s ministries, church groups, adventures, just get involved! Community is a great thing that God gave us, and we need to use it to our advantage.

 


Lila Smith is a college student at Gr and Canyon University in Phoenix…Lila Smith is a college student at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona. She is a Sophomore majoring in Psychology, with a minor in Christian Studies. She currently spends her time hanging out with friends, being a life leader on her floor, studying, going on adventures, and doing ministries on her campus. She plans to work in the church and/or be a counselor later on after her college years are over. 

Identity

As a perfectionist, I feel most satisfied at the end of the day when I feel like I did everything right. The day doesn’t necessarily have to be perfect, but as long as I do what I think is good in any given circumstance, I am happy and can sleep peacefully. In fact, at times, my desire to do what I feel is right has kept me from actually doing what is most important. I strive in my flesh to achieve greatness as a mother, wife, and as an individual, and that, at times, is the very thing that keeps me from achieving greatness in God’s eyes. God has been trying to teach me this my whole life… but now that I am a wife and mother, to me, my flaws have become 100% more evident.

Being a wife and mother to two (after only being married for three years) is really hard! I absolutely love it, but it is the most difficult thing I have ever done. My flesh has to die multiple times every day. I see, more and more, how deeply flawed I am… I cannot escape my flaws. They are there and love to flaunt how imperfect I am. I fail daily and it absolutely kills me.

If I respond impatiently with my son, I failed that day and am the worst mother in the world. If I am gracious and patient, my heart is happy and I feel like a “good” mother. If I maintain a clean house and I do everything I need to have an organized and neat home, then by the end of the day I will allow myself to rest. If not, I most likely will not be able to sleep until absolutely everything is clean and tidy. Sounds like so much fun, doesn’t it? If I eat one cookie then I absolutely failed and I might as well just eat ALL of them, because I already failed by eating that one and I will just restart tomorrow. Wow! Am I crazy, or what?! This has been my life. It is exhausting and makes me feel like I am going crazy. I can never seem to be “good enough.”

I greatly desire to be a woman of excellence, and this desire has the ability to make me act in ways that I don’t consider to be “excellent.” This creates a real frustration and disappointment in me. Recently I was sharing this struggle with my husband, and he responded to my dismay by saying,

“You should pursue discovering who you are, rather than how good you are.”

Those simple words really helped to open my eyes and helped me shift the way I think about my values. I am flawed indeed, but I am learning that when I strive for perfection in my own strength, I don’t get the results that I am looking for. I may be able to obtain the “perfect” body, but is it really beautiful if I do so by hating the body I currently have? I may be able to have several days where I don’t lash out at my children or husband, but if I do so from a heart motivated by self-hatred and the need to be “perfect” all of the time, is it truly beautiful? I may be able to maintain the cleanest, neatest house, but if I do so from a place of stress and anxiety, is it really beautiful? No. It is not.

I believe one of the greatest tricks of the enemy is to waste time. This is why the enemy tries so hard to get us to be religious. If he can sink our minds into habit, he will prevent our hearts from engaging God. I am tired of living that way. I am tired of the empty striving, and I don’t want to waste any more time. I want my life to be TRULY beautiful. TRULY meaningful.

image3So now, my goal isn’t just to do everything right, but to do everything from a place in my heart that reflects the person who God created me to be. My body may not be perfect, but my heart is happy and thankful for the body I was blessed with. I may not be the perfect mother, wife, daughter, friend, or woman, but I no longer have to live in a place of self-hatred over my faults. Instead, I can move forward by God’s grace and God’s love for me and GROW in it. I may not have the neatest house, but that’s ok. I can look at the mess and still take time to love on my family or friends without being anxious about it. And you know the best part? I am falling deeper in love with the Lord. With life. With my children and husband. I am finding joy where I never have before. My heart and mind are experiencing sweet rest and peace as I live in the truth instead of striving for perfection. We were never created to be perfect. We were created to be loved. 
God is good. God is perfect. And out of love He sent His Son (because He knew I couldn’t be perfect), to save me so that I don’t have to strive for perfection on my own. That’s a lot to be thankful for.


About the Author

image1My name is Abigail Smith. I am a wife to Landon Smith and a mother to two precious little boys, Elias (2 years old) and Josiah (6 months old). My days and greatest joys consist of running on coffee, surviving on Jesus, and running after my incredibly hyper and active (did I say hyper?) 2 year old while figuring out how to carry my baby at the same time. I love traveling and experiencing new cultures/meeting new people, walks with my family, reading, and running. I have experienced the transformational power of God’s grace and love and am passionate about seeing other women experience the freedom that walking in His truth brings.