The positive side of negative emotions?

Friends,
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.

Really.
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?

BOOM.
(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?
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.

Why Lent is More Important Than You Think

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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)
Yeah.
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.
Quiet.
Silent.

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

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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?

 

Letter to G, from me.

G.
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.

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(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.
NEVER.
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.
Today.
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.

Epiphany (the day, not the feeling)

What a day for Epiphany.
It’s eleventy-hundred degrees below zero.
The commute was the worst of the season.
And somehow we have a house full of left hand mittens only.
But still, it’s Epiphany.
A day full of wonder and awe and joy.
Not because of the gifts presented to the newborn king, but because through the 3 Magi, we see God continuing to reveal a light into the darkness.
We continue to see God with us.
Because really, before this, God was with the house of Israel.
God was with the chosen people.
But today, on Epiphany, God chooses to be with all of us.
Epiphany is how we celebrate that God widened the scope of salvation to include everyone.
Those Magi are important, but because of what they mean, not what they bring.
God comes to all of us.

ALL OF US.

And so it’s worth taking time out today to celebrate, to remember, to pause in the cold of the day and the stress of the commute and busyness of life and be with the Magi as they first encounter Jesus.

So… how might we celebrate Epiphany today?
Because the Magi brought gifts, we might assume that we should too… that it’s another day to give gifts to one another.
But no, I think Epiphany is more about recognizing God’s gifts to us.
And our gift from God is Jesus.
“the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8)
This is what inspires the awe and wonder of the Magi.
Our gift from God.

So today, on Epiphany, here’s what we can do to celebrate:
Take a minute.
Light a candle.
Pause.
Breathe.
Say thanks.

OR – if you want to do something more… here are some other ideas from around the world to celebrate Epiphany:

1. In some church traditions, families gather at the door of their home on Epiphany to bless the home for the following year. One person writes over the doorway No. 2, then the letters C, M and B, and finally the last two digits of the current year. Between each letter and number is a plus sign, signifying the cross. The letters C, M, and B represent the names that tradition has given to the three wise men — Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar. They’re also the first three words of the Latin phrase “Christus mansionem benedicat,” which means, “Christ bless this house.”

2. In many countries, the Feast of Epiphany includes a delicious cake that is cut into pieces and served to everyone present. The cake’s ingredients differ from country to country. In France, the cake is a puff pastry filled with “frangipane” or sweet bun. In Spain and Mexico, the “rosca de royas” is made of sweet egg bread and is typically layered with frosting and fruit slices. Inside these cakes, a tiny bean is hidden representing the Christ child. When the cake is carved into pieces, whoever finds the bean is crowned king of the feast.

(info from http://www.ehow.com/how_9405_celebrate-feast-epiphany.html)

I love both of these, blessing the house seems like a lovely tradition to do each year, and despite finding a hidden and baked baby Jesus kind of creepy, I can always get behind any tradition that involves eating cake.

However you do it, celebrate today.
God’s plan includes YOU.
That is worth a celebration.

Happy Epiphany
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January (Water): first days

So drinking water is a lot harder than I thought it would be.
I’ve figured to get the 128 ounces I need to drink 5 of my water bottles in my day.
I got to four yesterday.

So yeah, I got a LOT more water in me than usual, but not the gallon.
It’s not habit yet, to pick up the water bottle.
In fact, it felt like all I was doing was drinking water!
But I felt good.
Alert, healthy… good.
Yes, I’m in the bathroom more than usual, but I think it will calm down once my body knows what the heck to do with everything.
Yoga this morning felt better too.
First impressions, it’s tough, but I can feel the difference.
Soldier on.

Why Blog?

So it’s happened.  I’ve decided to blog.
I’m not sure how often it will happen, or what it will be about, but there are a few reasons I’ve decided to do it.
No, I don’t think the world needs yet another person putting opinions out there for mass consumption, and no, I don’t think my thoughts need to be heard more than others, but often I feel like I’m a lone voice in a crowd, and instead of fitting my thoughts into 140 characters or incomplete snippets that end up being misread and misunderstood, I thought I’d just post here.  A place where my thoughts could be complete, and maybe bring up some food for thought as others read them.
I’m not trying to change the world, but simply be myself: pastor, wife, mother, yogi, saint and sinner.

A word about my title and tagline:
I do not think I’m right. I’m not posting because I believe I need to change the minds of those who read it.
I simply want to put things out there, and encourage people to think differently or even challenge the status quo.
But in doing this, I realize that what I say and post is only my own limited view.  It’s imperfect.
It’s like looking in a mirror – it’s only a dim reflection of reality, and the scope is limited.
“For now I see only a reflection in a mirror…” (1 Corinthians 13:12)