What we need is a little more namaste.

I know I talk a lot about yoga on this blog.
There are two reasons for this –
1. Yoga is awesome
2. Yoga continues to teach me new things all the time.

I’ve been thinking about the ending of yoga, especially in a public class, where we bow to each other and say “Namaste”

This word is actually pretty well known these days, as yoga isn’t such a hooey thing that only hippies and treehuggers participate in.
But as much as people know the word, they don’t always know what it means.

Here’s the definition:

That’s what it means.
One word, encompasses all of that.
You can simplify it a bit by saying that the divine in me recognizes the divine in you, but this complete definition is a lot more powerful.
Look at it again –
My soul honors your soul.
I honor the light, love, truth, beauty and peace within you – because those things are also in me – and like sees like.
When we see those things in each other, we are one.
We see our sameness – our shared humanity.

Right now, in this country, we aren’t seeing a lot of sameness.
We’re focused all on difference.
And some of those differences are important.
When it comes to justice and privilege, then yes, recognizing and acknowledging difference is SO important to be able to make changes and fight for justice and equality.
But when we only see difference – when we look at someone and make a judgement based on their candidate of choice or who they love or the color of their skin then we have the kind of world that is breaking out today.
One that demonizes difference and leave no room for nuance and individuals.

It’s time for a little more namaste, people.

It’s time to look at the people who are in direct opposition to me and see them for the light, love, truth, beauty and peace within them.
It’s time to recognize the good in people.
And call it out in each other.
Get to know people for who they really are, inside.
Get to know the light, love, truth, beauty and peace of each person in your life – especially those who aren’t the same as you.

At the end of each yoga class, after we’ve struggled and breathed and laughed together – we say namaste in unison, recognizing how we each have things that we bring to the class, to each other, and to the world.  We see the light in each other and we lift it up.  We offer at the end a deep reverence for the other.

Say it with me: namaste.




The positive side of negative emotions?

Today I need to use this blog to work through some stuff.
Is that ok?

Because awhile ago I heard a little five minute podcast from my ever favorite Glennon Doyle Melton (of Momastery) and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

That little baby podcast was posted on March 18th.
So basically it’s been almost a month of me thinking and thinking and thinking about what she said.

It’s worth you all checking it out – so please, click the link and go listen, but bottom line – she said that we so often think about what makes us happy. Then we try to do those things and be informed by those things.  Logical right?
But here’s the kicker – she said that we often ignore or hide or even run away from the emotions that make us uncomfortable, but it is THOSE emotions which can be the most instructive.

“What if we treated these negative emotions like traveling professors?”

You guys.
Here’s why this is changing my life.
Instead of being afraid of these negative emotions like envy or anger or competitiveness, G challenges us to see them as teachers, as helpful, and – most importantly – temporary.
Did you notice how she called them traveling professors?
Because they come in for a bit, you learn from them, and then they go on their way.

I’ve maybe mentioned once or twice that I struggle with perfectionism and performance… you  know, my drugs of choice.  For some it’s alcohol, for me, it’s doing things right and being good.  So when I have an emotion that doesn’t fit into those categories, if I find myself being judgy or envious, I tend to see them as failures.  I must be doing something wrong if I feel them.

But what if, like Glennon says, I see them as helpful instead of hurtful?
What if I didn’t see them as bad, but as part of the process to help me be more who I am created to be?

(that was my head exploding)

So when I find myself going to that place, where I am beating myself up for something I’m feeling, I can pause, and ask myself why am I feeling this way?
What is happening?
What’s at the root of this?
And what does it have to teach me?

See how this changes everything?

So friends – what’s your negative emotion you’ve been hiding from?
How can you see it differently, and what might it have to teach you?
I’d love to hear all about it.

Balancing Practice

So if you follow my blog, you know I like yoga.  Kind of a lot.
There are a LOT of reasons, which I am happy to tell you about if you ask, but I’ve been thinking about one reason in particular.

I’m a perfectionist.
It’s not a good thing for me.
I’ve struggled with my performance mentality for a long time, and as an adult I’ve had to teach myself how to break the habit of beating myself up when I don’t do it “right” or “perfectly.”
(Incidentally, this was really driven home by my read and study of Brene Brown’s book: The Gifts of Imperfection” which I highly recommend if you find yourself relating to this post at all.)

Yoga, at it’s core, is a practice.
It’s never done. You never get it “right” or “perfect.”
And there might be a day you do a pose really well, and then literally the next day you can’t do it if your life depended on it.
And that’s all ok.
It’s all a part of the practice of yoga.

While I do daily yoga, I only go to a public class once a week.
Though she says it a lot, yesterday my instructor reminded me that the only way our bodies learn is by falling.

There’s a pose – Warrior 3 – where you balance on one leg and make yourself into a T shape.
Here’s the thing – your hips have to be level.  Like balance a cup of water on your low back level.  When you start the posture, your non-standing-leg hip wants to go up just a little.  And so the practice in this pose is to get those hips on the same plane.  So you adjust, and adjust and adjust, and usually, you adjust a bit too much and fall out of it.
But that’s where the magic happens. That little space between falling and balancing is the sweet spot, but you never get there without going past it first.
And if you’re anything like me, wanting perfection… that should blow your mind.
Because I think we’re so afraid to fall, so afraid of not doing things “right” that we don’t ever take the risk, and then we never learn anything new.
The only way we learn is to fall.
The only way we learn is to fall.
This fear of failure that we’ve built into the culture is bad for us.
It’s bad for creativity.
It’s bad for health.
It’s bad for us period.

This is why I love yoga.
Yoga is where I learn stuff like this and then take if off the mat and into the world.
Perfection isn’t the goal.
The practice is the goal.
Learning is the goal.
So I try stuff. I imagine, I dream big.
Sometimes I fall.
A lot of times I fall actually.
But I can’t be afraid of it.
And I know that falling is how I learn.
So I get up, try again, try something new and – sometimes, sometimes I get it just right.
I balance on the edge of safety and falling… and it’s beautiful.
I mean really, really beautiful.

There are things happening in my life right now that feel like big impossible dreams.
And I’m finding myself on the edge.
The easy thing would be to back up.
To move back into a safe place where balance is easier and things are not so scary.
But I know that growth doesn’t happen back there.
It happens here, balancing on the edge.
Trusting in the practice.
If I fall, well, that’s just a part of learning and growing.
Fear has no place in my yoga practice.
And it has no place in my life either.

Friday Uplift, 2-19-2016

The Spirit of God has made me, the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”
(Job 33:4)

There are so many references to breath in Scripture.  It starts right away in Genesis 1, when it says “The breath of God hovered over the darkness” and continues all the way through when Jesus appears to his disciples and breathes on them,  As some of you may know or have heard before, the words for breath (Pneuma in Greek, Ruach in Hebrew) are used interchangeably with Spirit or Holy Spirit.  It’s not a mistake.
There is a lot of great theology wrapped around this idea of breath and Spirit being the same word, but today I’d just like to simplify it a bit.
Take a deep breath in.
Now breathe out.
Again, deep breath in, long exhale out.
That?  That breathing thing you just did?
That’s God.
God with you.
God in you.
When Jesus left the disciples he said that he wasn’t leaving them alone but that a helper, the Holy Spirit (pneuma) would be with them forever. (John 14:26)
And how do we know the Spirit is with us?
We breathe.
In and out.
All day long.

All night long.

Yes, this simplifies a complex theology of the Holy Spirit, but I have found it to be a great comfort to know these two words are essentially the same.
It’s one of the reasons I enjoy yoga so much.  It’s an intentional focus on the breath… which for me, is a constant and intentional reminder of God within.  This works for going on walks or runs without headphones, taking quiet time, or even just taking ten seconds for a deep breath or two.

NO matter where you are, what you are going through, what is around you, when you need to know where God is, all you have to do is breathe.
“The breath of the Almighty gives me life.”
A few more times, breathe in, deeply.  And let it out.
God with us.
God with you.



Need a song on this rainy Friday?
This one always reminds me of the truth of breath and Spirit.
“it’s Your breath in our lungs, so we pour out our praise”
PS #2
Fun tidbit: If you breathe a cycle of deep breaths in and out 15 times, research has shown that cortisol (the stress hormone) stops being produced and your body makes endorphins instead.  AND it can last up to an hour!  That means a short few minutes of breathing (connecting to God) can calm you down and make you feel better.  SCIENCE!!

Why Lent is More Important Than You Think


In the hustle and bustle of our daily life – how often are you in silence?
No, sleeping doesn’t count.
(And really, some of you don’t sleep in silence either)

Really though.  How often are you silent?
Once a day?
Twice a day?
Ten minutes?
One minute but it was by mistake because your phone was in the other room?

We have lost the ability to be alone with our thoughts.
To be silent.
I love my phone as much, maybe even more, as the next person, but not being able to be silent is a big deal.
We need silence.
And even more importantly, God needs silence.
In the Book of Kings, we are reminded that God doesn’t speak in the earthquake, or in the fire, but instead we hear God’s voice in THE SILENCE.
(1 Kings 19:12)
In the silence.
So one might interpret this text today to say that God’s voice isn’t heard on social media or in loud music, but in the silence.

Silence is important, it’s life giving, and it connects us to God.

Mother Theresa even said that through silence God speaks.  “If you face God in prayer and silence, God will speak to you.”

So what does this have to do with Lent you ask?

Lent is the church season of silence.
Advent is joyful, sparkly, giddy anticipation.
Pentecost is loud, chaotic, fiery enthusiasm.
Lent is quiet, calm reflection.
Lent is tailor-made for silence.
And we need it.

We need to take these 40 days and remove some of the noise from our world.
We need to take these 40 days and fast from the things that hold us back from hearing God’s voice.
What is that for you?
Is it social media? Maybe.
Is it anger, or bitterness or pride? Maybe.
Whatever it is for you, consider how you might remove it and leave that space empty.

God will speak in the silence.
We only need to leave a little space.


What am I doing for Lent you might wonder? (or not wonder, that’s cool too)
I’m giving myself social media time limits.
I really notice that it is in silence when I am most likely to pick up my phone.
So I’m using an app that puts time limits on my social media and I’m going to see what happens.  I’m going to try to make silence something I value, instead of something that makes me uncomfortable.
This Lent – I’m making space.
Will you?


Friday Uplift, 2-5-2016

“Be still, and know that I am God”
Psalm 46:10

Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy.
Genesis 20:8
I heard a lovely talk about the gift of Sabbath last week, and it’s really got me thinking about stillness.
In her talk, the speaker talked about our cultural epidemic of non-stop.  We’ve made over-working into something noble.
Have you ever wondered if all the running around and over-working is worth it?
Have you ever wondered if in the hustle and bustle that we’ve allowed into our daily lives, we might be missing something better?
These are really, really hard questions to spend time with – because we know, before we even finish asking them, what the answer is going to be.
No, it’s not worth it.
Yes, we’re missing something.
And we also know that the something we are missing is God.
Sure, we might squeeze in going to church or reading our Bible into the crazy we’ve created, but are we being still?
Are we leaving space for God to be with us and for us to really be with God?
Don’t get me wrong, I think God can work with what God is given, but man, can you imagine what God might do with more?
More time, more space, more you?
Sabbath, resting, being still – whatever you need to call it – is a gift, time where we only do the things that bring us life.  Only things that remind us who we are, and WHOSE we are.
How long has it been since you’ve taken a day or even an hour and only done things that make you more you?

The word STILL in today’s uplift scripture can be translated as relax,sink down, let go, be quiet, or even be idle.

We don’t really value being idle in our culture, but GOD DOES.  God values stillness because it is there where we can best be who we are created to be – and that is a child of God.

You are a child of God. Let that promise be with you today.
Sit with it.
Sink down with it.
Be idle and quiet with this promise wrapped around you like a blanket.

And see what God does with the gift of stillness.
Be still! Just now be still!
Something your soul has never heard, 
something unknown to any song of bird, 
something unknown to any wind or wave or star, 
a message from the Father’s land afar, 
that with sweet joy the homesick soul will thrill,
and comes to you only when you’re still. (unknown)

Letter to G, from me.

I have been sitting on this letter to you for a little while now, because I was hoping the answers would magically appear in my brain, but that’s definitely not happening so I thought if maybe I combined your brain with my brain we could come up with something wonderful.
I’m getting ahead of myself. I’m Natalia. I met you in MN, (along with about 500 other ladies, about three years ago, so I don’t expect you to remember me). I’m a pastor, wife, mother and my whole family and congregation know of you because I pretty regularly use your words in my preaching. (thanks for that by the way – you make me look goooooooood on a regular basis)
My little is 5. She is creative and wonderful and quirky and hilarious.
She wants to write.
She has started a book club for little girls.
I love her and her heart.
Each day when I get her onto the bus, I tell her to be brave and kind, but “especially kind”, and she looks at me, kisses my nose, and says “you too mama” And off she goes.
She goes off to kindergarten, with great teachers in a great school, and not everyone is kind TO her.
And man. How hard is it to be kind when someone else isn’t kind to you? It’s a thing most ADULTS don’t know how to do and here I’m asking my little love to do it.

So here’s the thing I need help with.
Because what she is learning, with great difficulty, is that being kind means being hurt. And as a mama, I love that she’s kind and I HATE that she gets hurt doing it.
So here I am. Hoping your littles (being a little less little than mine) have already come into this issue and you can share your experience with me. Because I truly, truly believe that love wins. That kindness will win the war even when it doesn’t win the battle.
But the lost battles suck.

Anyway – that’s what I’ve got.

Thanks for being you, for sharing your heart and your honesty with me.
I am truly better at being me because you are you.

Praying for you – Natalia

You are a Masterpiece. (Or, why my book club is better than Taylor’s Squad)

In the past few months, Taylor Swift has basically redefined what it means to be a girlfriend.
She showed up at the VMAs with her “Girl Squad” all decked out and loving each other, holding hands on the red carpet, and hanging out at the after party.

(That’s basically exactly what I look like when I hang out with my friends…)

Taylor has made the “girl squad” a thing… something people aspire to be. Having a squad – a crew of friends that hang out and have a great time and have each others’ back – seems to be the “in” thing right now.
(Don’t believe me?  Just search the hashtag #squadgoals and you’ll see what I mean.)

The more I hear about squads and the more people talk about Taylor’s friends, the more I realize my own #squadgoal has been met by a most unexpected source… my book club.
I know what you’re thinking.  No way.
Squads have to be made up of fancy famous people.  That’s what Taylor has taught us!
And really, if ten years ago, someone had told me that a BOOK CLUB would impact my life more profoundly than any other group of people outside of my family and God, I would have called shenanigans.
But instead, that very thing has happened.
I’ve been a part of my book club for about 8 years.  And sure, for the first couple of years, it was a great way to talk about good books, drink wine, and check in with like-minded ladies.
But somewhere along the line, something changed.  We became a squad.
And even better than a squad, because instead of walking the red carpet together, we sit on couches in sweatpants and confess our struggles to each other and celebrate our joys with one another.
Yes we still read books, and yes we still talk about them monthly, but somehow we’ve become more than just a book club.

Last week, we had a book club retreat.
It wasn’t fancy.
We were at someone’s house. Not a hotel or retreat center or cabin.
We didn’t even read a book before we met.
But oh man.  It was holy.
So SO holy.
Yes, we told stories, and ate good food, and drank wine,played games, laughed hard, and stayed up too late, but in the midst of the fun, we created some holy ground.
One night, we spent four hours taking turns telling each one why they are a masterpiece.
FOUR HOURS you guys.
It was incredible.
One by one, we singled out each woman and shared why we love her, honor who she is, respect her, and why she is a masterpiece of God’s creation.
I have to say, I have never been a part of something so profound in my whole life.
As a mother, wife, and pastor, I’ve been privileged and honored to be a part of a lot of profound and holy moments.
And now, five days later, it is STILL feeding me.
Still filling my soul.
Not only the words that were spoken to me, but also the words spoken by others for everyone else too.
Holy Ground I tell you.

And each and every time I think of those four hours of amazingness, as I again feel the glow of love and a full heart, I wonder what the world might be like if more of us practiced this as a part of our daily lives.
What if we looked at our own “Squads”: our friends, our families, our communities, and spoke words of love and why we see them as a masterpiece?
And not only that – but why don’t we do this ever?
Why do we wait until at funerals and around hospital beds to speak these kinds of truths into people’s lives?
I know this was profound because it never happens, but WHY DOESN’T IT EVER HAPPEN?!
Can you imagine what our squads would be like if we just did this always?

Let me tell you – the things I thought people might say about me?  I wasn’t even close.
And the things I say about myself?  They were even further away from what I heard spoken to me.
I’m not alone in needing these kinds of words.
10 other women weeping for four hours tell me so.
The people in your life need it too.
I KNOW they do.
And you have something to say to each of them.
You can look at them and tell them they are a masterpiece.
That God’s fingerprints are all over them.
And when you look at them, you see ____________________…
And then go.
Do it.
Right now.
Don’t put it off.
Create a holy moment with the ones you love.
Your squad will never be the same.
And neither will you.

Why I’m not thankful this November

Each month, over the past year, I’ve taken on a project, like drinking more water, or getting outside every day, or limiting my online presence.
For November, the most logical project would be to spend days being thankful.  And if those who have been following this project would have to take a guess, I think most would assume that I’d go with some kind of thankfulness experiment… but they’d be wrong.

I have a confession: the daily thankful stuff during November drives me bananas.

I know. I’m a horrible person.

It’s not that I don’t have things to be thankful for – I actually have SO MUCH to be thankful for.  But I’ve started to wonder what the point is of all my blessings if I’m just saying I’m thankful and that’s it.
What does that really do?
Does it change anything? Does it change me? More importantly, does it change the world?
My gratitude month (in May) taught me that it’s not being thankful for the big things, (like family, friends, a job, health, etc) that bring gratitude and joy. No, surprisingly, it’s the little things – tiny, otherwise unnoticed moments in the day – that change our perspective and us.
So why spend a month being thankful for those big things when I’m not really sure it does anything?

After some thought – I’ve decided to make this month’s project “service.”
Simply put – I’m going to do daily acts of service for the month of November.
They don’t have to be big all-day events, but small moments where I intentionally give back.
Give back out of the blessings I have been given.
Give back out of gratitude for the people that I love and who love me.

Being thankful is a start, but we can go further.
This month, I challenge you to be more than thankful.
I challenge you take the things you are thankful for, and give out of those things.
Thankful for your kid? What can you do to serve out of that place?
Thankful for your amazing parents? What can you do for them, or people who don’t have amazing parents?

It’s not quick and easy like posting what you are thankful for today to facebook.
This practice means taking time and being thoughtful and intentional around your blessings.
But we can do it.
And I think we’ll be better off for trying.

Who’s with me?

Project 12:30 November

For my monthly “project” in November, most would assume that I’d go with thankfulness… but I have a confession: the daily thankful stuff during November drives me bananas.
I know. I’m a horrible person.
It’s not that I don’t have things to be thankful for – I actually have SO MUCH to be thankful for.  But I’ve started to wonder what the point is of all my blessings if I’m just being thankful and that’s it.
What does that really do?
My gratitude month in May reminded me that it’s not actually being thankful for the big things, (like family, friends, a job, health, etc) that bring gratitude and joy.  It’s the little things – tiny, otherwise unnoticed moments in the day – that change our perspective and us.

So I’ve made this month’s project “service.”
I’m going to do daily acts of service for the month of November.
They don’t have to be big all-day events, but small moments where I intentionally give back.
Give back out of the blessings I have been given.
Give back out of gratitude for the people that I love and who love me.

This month, I challenge you to be more than thankful.
I challenge you take the things you are thankful for, and give out of those things.
It’s not quick and easy like posting to facebook.
It means taking time and being thoughtful and intentional around your blessings.
But we can do it.

Who’s with me?