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What superpower would you like to have?

Counselors often ask weird questions like, “if you could have a superpower, what would it be?” A woman whose suspects her husband of cheating might like to have the power of being invisible so she could spy. A traveling businessman may like to fly so he didn’t have to wait at the airport. Having boys, I have been asked this question too. As a matter of fact, one of my boys asked me which superhero was my favorite and I said “Captain America” (honestly because he’s the cutest) and my son being the wonderful judge of character he is, said, “why because you want to kiss him?”, No I said…”because I’m patriotic and love my country;  besides, I can only kiss your daddy like that ;).” Kids…

Here’s a thought on what I consider to be a true superpower, LOVE. We see images of love all around, we see things in then media that look like love according to some, we hear songs about love all over the radio, etc. Let’s look at love as a superpower and maybe it’ll help you through a Thanksgiving dinner or other fun and challenging moments in life.

1 Corinthians 12: 3-14 gives a completely different definition of love than what were are often exposed to in this crazy world. It introduces the definition in verses 3-7 by saying “If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.”

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

Do you have this superpower? Love has the power to transform lives, free people from pain, heal, and much more. This is much more effective than being invisible or flying. We long and need to experience this superpower. ry this definition of love and see what happens!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thankful for the love of Christ who showed this definition of love by laying his life down for me,

Natalie 🙂

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He’s just a negative person.

Do you know this person? Maybe it is a she in your life. Negative people. The cup is half empty, not half full. They always have the worse case scenario perspective. What does this mindset and attitude do to one’s health?

Let’s explore… (for more info. read “How do Thoughts and Emotions impact health by Karen Lawson, MD)

-Chronic negative and repressed feelings can upset the body’s hormonal balance which can deplete the brain’s chemicals that lead to happiness.

-Negativity can cause gastrointestinal problems, cardiovascular problems, hypertension, infections, anxiety and depression

-Negative attitudes also contribute to relationship problems. People don’t want to be friends with negative people, they don’t want to work with them, they get tired of being married to them, and the kids grow up to resent them.

-There are many more scientifically researched effects and simply effects you have observed about the danger of a negative attitude.

Can this person change? Sure, I believe anyone can change. If I didn’t, I should find a new career…

-One can change their attitude first by be grateful for things instead of complaining. Be thankful for the job you have. Be thankful for your health. Be thankful for your frustrations that are helping you to be more patient and understanding. You can turn all of your complaints into thanks if you try.

-Forgive those who’ve hurt you. Forgiveness isn’t about saying what someone did was ok, it is about releasing the bitterness in your own life for that person. The bitterness is only hurting you.

-Seek a counselor to help you deal with your repressed emotions and feelings that may be causing you to be negative.

-Pray and ask for God’s help in being more grateful. Gratitude leads to joy.

-Change your thinking. Think about true things, lovely things, noble, right, pure, and admirable.

Psalm 28:7 -The LORD is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart exults, And with my song I shall thank Him.

Thanking God for rain today even though I want some some sunhine,

Natalie

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Sometimes you have to act your way into a feeling…

What in the world does that mean, you may be thinking… Well let me explain. This morning I had a conversation with a lovely, beautiful lady inside and out who encouraged me to write something based off of our conversation (probably joking, but at any rate here we are). We were discussing working out being a part of my weekly routine, eating healthy…not so much. I love healthy food, however, I also love sweets! No your muffin top does not make you a cute cupcake in case you were wondering. As a counselor, I know how to make change, but putting it into practice is a whole other thing.

I find that often times what keeps people from changing is that they are waiting on something to happen (New Year’s Day, a wedding to plan for, or a variety of other things). Mostly, I believe people are waiting until they feel like changing to change. Well, good luck with that plan. Feelings are misleading. They should not be dictators of your actions. If so, I’d be on an episode of my 400 lb life. Let’s face it, salads are great, but nothing warms your mind and belly like a chocolate chip cookie. So, sometimes I believe we need to act our way into a feeling. Make a choice to change, then take actions, and hopefully the feelings will come. This is applicable to lots of situations if you think about it. For example:

-Act like a good spouse, and maybe you’ll start feeling something again

-Fill out your application to go back to school, go to class, and then you’ll have a degree which feels good.

-Act like a good parent (discipline your kids, spend time with them, love them) and you may experience a good feeling one day.

-Make an appointment with a counselor and deal with your stuff, after the hard work, you will start to see positive results.

However, remember these important tips too:

-Things that are worth it are never easy.

-Results are not immediate. You didn’t get here over night nor will you likely change in a night.

Praying for you to make a positive change,

Natalie 🙂

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In the world of “friends” and “likes”, what truly makes a good friend?

My heart truly goes out to the youth of today (this makes me sound so old…). They are bombarded with social challenges because of social media. They are constantly faced with identity issues, comparing and being compared to others, and achieving a status based on how many people “like” their posts or lives. Personally, I want to take the pressure off of everyone and say, just be ________________ (fill in the blank with your name).

This past weekend a friend of 20+ years (again…wow I’m feeling old) asked me to come and do a “talk” with a group of middle/high school girls that she works with in her job. My friend, Candice and I met at an 8th grade dance when I was invited by a friend to a different school’s dance. She taught me her cool dance moves and then got upset when I danced with a guy the girls liked at that school. Isn’t this just like us girls, to like each other one minute and the next to get upset? Since then though, God has used her in my life as a true friend. We have laughed mostly, cried, danced, gotten in trouble together, been in each others weddings, at each others baby showers, and much more. Here are a few things we discussed at the talk:

  • Consider this…Do people describe you as a friend? Proverbs 17:17 A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. Do you love the people in your life at all times? Can you be happy for them when they succeed and you don’t? Can you mourn with them when they are struggling? Romans 12:15 Rejoice with those who are rejoicing, mourn with those who are mourning.
  • Psalm 139:14 “I will praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made”. Be who God wants you to be, not anyone else; find friends who love you for you (silly, goofy, strange, moody, …YOU), have many friends not just one, don’t qualify them by calling one a “best”…etc. On a side note, I learned teens call their group of friends their “squad or fam” now..Interesting.
  • As a friend, don’t judge your friends. If they make a wrong choice, love them, forgive them. Luke 6:37 Judge not, condemn not; forgive and you’ll be forgiven. 
  • Good friends communicate, but don’t HAVE to daily, they don’t HAVE to “like” every one of your posts. They also speak the truth in love. Ephesians 4:15. speak the truth in love. Ephesians 4:15 Accept when your friend tries to confront you, help you, speak truth to you in love.
  • Accept and embrace this truth… friends will come and friends will go. Ecclesiastes Chapter 3 talks about a time for everything…verse 5 says, there is a time to cast away stones and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing. Some friends are short term and some are long term. Don’t force friendships and if a friendship needs to come to an end or just simply just end, let it go. Be thankful for having a friendship with that person at a specific time in your life, but don’t feel like you have to hang on to someone who is negative in your life.
  • Lastly, be thankful for the gift of friendship. Be thankful for your friends. Let them know you appreciate them. Praise God the giver of all good things for friendship! James 1:7 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

I hope this information makes you think today about friendship. In conclusion, I’ll share one of my favorite memories with Candice. We were in the marching band together on the band front. Which regardless how nerdy my husband says that is, it was cool at our high school. We had a large band of over 300 kids. Candice was a majorette and I was a flag girl. We were practicing in the hallway during class and she had to take the end of her baton off so I was helping her and as I pulled it off, I fell back and knocked over the custodian whom I didn’t see. She rolled on the ground like a rollie pollie and complained of her arm hurting as Candice and I couldn’t stop from laughing so we got chewed out by our captains for laughing…Oh well. I tell you about the time I dented a tuba with my flag later…

Have a great week!

NatalieIMG_3608

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I’m part Brazillian: finding joy in similarities and differences

A precious baby in a village.
A precious baby in a village.
Kristin and a village leader. Kristin is the one who was supposed to push me down..
Kristin and a village leader. Kristin is the one who was supposed to push me down..
My roommates:)
My roommates:)

Too often these days, we (I’m referring to most people from the US) focus on one another’s differences too often in a negative way and lack the joy of looking at the similarities we have. Maybe if we start with where we are alike and appreciate one another’s differences, we can find ways to love one another.

Here are some insights I gained from a mission trip to a third world country recently where they do things differently:

-Contentment is a gift: accept your circumstances and focus on the good. Some places won’t allow you to throw your poop paper in the toilet, so if you can… appreciate a good flush! I dare you to count your blessings for one day instead of focusing on the things you think are wrong in your life. If you try this, let me know how it went in a comment.

-Being affectionate is something you can learn to appreciate: Hugs can affect your mood in a positive way. I watched  people over the past week hug people they didn’t even know from a foreign country..why can’t we do that with people who live right next to us, work with us, eat dinner with us, or sit next to us in church?

-Flexibility and your attitude make life much easier. If a flight gets cancelled or your day doesn’t go according to your plan, turn it into a fun experience. My husband said I could kiss an airline supervisor guy b/c he was so nice to me:) see picture. I was still getting home a day later than planned but it wasn’t quite as bad as if I would have decided to stay ticked off for things out of my control. You can have fun in any place or circumstance.

-Don’t sweat the small stuff: a frog can be a weird thing in your room. My roommates and I in Brazil also roomed with a frog. Our leader told us to leave the frog because he would eat the mosquitoes. We did and even though it woke one of us up in the middle of the night by jumping on a neck, it wasn’t the end of the world. Sometimes, we need eo realize what things are small, and in the scope of life…most things are small.

-Perspective is everything: how can you change your perspective. Whatever it takes for you to change the lens from which you are viewing the world, do it from time to time. It’s worth it. Go on a trip, try to make a new friend, have a discussion with someone you dislike, watch a show with your kid, etc.

-Racism vs classism: they both suck, being judgmental only hurts you. In the US, we suffer from racism unfortunately. In Brazil, they suffer from classism. They don’t really have that many races but they do have a class system that hurts them as a country just like racism hurts the US. We went to work with the most poor and looked down on people in Brazil. It was a blessing, but it made me think about how we are all God’s creation and He loves us all. I believe we all came from the same two individuals, Adam and Eve so we are from the same family. I sure wish this view could break down the barriers and painful ways we judge one another. I believe with God all things are possible though…

-College students are cool: give people a chance. I had to room with a kid in college. Actually she’s a young lady, but when you realize you could have been her parent, it feels appropriate to call her a kid. We don’t have much in common as far as life circumstances at the moment. I’m married, she’s dating. I’m a mother, she’s not. I’m a career person, she’s studying. However, after a week of rooming together, I’ve gained a new friend. Give people a chance, even young ones. You just might gain a new friend!

-Most of your fears don’t come true: being eaten by an anaconda. One of the girls on the trip was told by her best friend to push me down if she saw an anaconda and run so the snake would eat me first. I understand the love of a best friend, but was only slightly amused by the comment especially after one night when the power was out and she and I were outside walking, the fear seemed like it could be a real occurrence. However, I’m glad I faced the fear and went to Brazil and wasn’t eaten by an anaconda.

-My Brazilian roommate and translator told me “I’ve never met an American like you, you are crazy. I like it because you are like a Brazillian.) Apparently, I fit in:) I’ve also been told by one of my favorite people in the world that I have “sister hips”, which I also love. Therefore, I’m part Brazilian, part “African American”, and I’m sure much more! You see, we really do have a lot more similarities than we think even if our skin looks different or we don’t speak the same language.

God Bless you today!

Love,

Natalie

Romans 14: 1-23

As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. …

Colossians 1: 16-17:

For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

Revelation 7:9
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands… (I love this verse, how beautiful heaven will be)!

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The right response

Today, I’m going to shout out to mothers. Mother’s Day was the past Sunday, which is a nice day in theory. However, for some it is a painful day. Mother’s Day can be hard for someone who has experienced the loss of a mother (I’m speaking of death not actually losing one…I tried to lose mine in target one time when she had my children who weren’t acting right, but she kept finding me :)). It can also be difficult if you had a terrible mother, or if you are at the child-bearing age and you have been wanting a child but it just hasn’t happened. I’ve often wondered if Hallmark thinks of these issues when they make their cards each year…Yes, I think about weird things. Personally, I am so blessed to have an amazing mom. I still need her and I’m so thankful to still have her in my life.

This blog is about how mothers and fathers have the opportunity to show grace to their children through their response to the crazy things that parenthood brings about through children. When kids are little they may say, “Mom, look what I found?” We may expect it to be a quarter but it turns out to be a snake, lizard or other reptile we may not want to touch. As they grow, they may say, “Mom look what I drew?” If the mom in the picture turns out to look a little overweight, the mom doesn’t typically say “what an idiot?” to the kid or something else inappropriate. Typically, moms are gracious and say “That is the most beautiful picture I’ve ever seen!” or something like that. However, something happens as children grow and parents sometimes forget to have the right response. We act too disappointed, we are too busy, we expect perfection, etc…these responses to our children as they grow up will not cultivate strong, independent, successful, loved, compassionate children. These responses will create resentment, anger, and bitterness.

Consider the following:

-If your child gets in trouble, address it at home too. Hear him or her out but let them experience natural consequences to things and be there for them when they experience pain. Don’t handicap your child by always trying to make his life easy.

-If your pre-teen likes someone of the opposite sex, be there to talk to him/her about it; don’t act freaked out or be harsh.

-Talk to your kids about how you’ve failed and overcome these failures so they’ll know it’s ok when they fall.

-If your son comes home and says, I got my girlfriend pregnant, don’t give him a speech on premarital sex and tell him how he’s screwed up his life. Tell him you love him and you will always be there for him and that you will get through this together.

-Make sure you have cultivated a relationship with your children so that when they screw up, get an award, experience a breakup, get a promotion that you are one of the first persons they want to call b/c they know no matter what you love them.

Show God’s love to your children. God loves you the same on your bad days and on your good days. You can’t do anything to make him stop loving you. In Romans 5:8 it says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Have a great week!

Love,

Natalie (Brenda’s daughter)

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I stabbed my husband with a butter knife

I realize that those of you who do not know me personally think I am completely nuts simply for reading the title of today’s blog. Well, you have made a good judgment. 🙂 I am not perfect and so thankful for God’s grace which the only way my husband can deal with me.

Speaking of nuts, I was making a peanut butter sandwich for my son one afternoon and was also tired from a long 6 mile run that morning when my husband decided to come up behind me and grab my calf in an attempt to scare me. First of all, men beware of a women with any type of kitchen utensil in her hand. My calf was sore and my reflexes were highly functioning so I jerked back and accidentally stabbed my husband in the arm with a butter knife. He actually still has the scar over a year later. Personally, I think he should have it tattooed on so he will be reminded to be treat me with caution. Amazingly enough, we are still married.

I started with this funny, true, story but unfortunately many spouses and family members are victims of real abuse everyday. Home should be your place of comfort, rest, enjoyment, and quality time with family. However, this isn’t the case for many families. Safehorizon.org reports that 60% of domestic violence incidents happen within the home.

If you are being abused:

-Get help by contacting a local shelter or at least by calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline 1−800−799−7233 or visiting the website at http://www.thehotline.org

-Let others help you instead of thinking you are alone.

-Remember you are worthy of true love and respect which never includes violence from a partner.

Many of us also may not be victims, but we have friends or family members who are suffering and we want to help. Here are some tips:

-Be a friend and ask how you can help.

-Don’t offer to be everything to him or her, the person needs to decide to get help of his or her own. He or she may simply need a listening ear until they decide they are ready to leave or get outside help from authorities.

-Don’t be afraid to contact the authorities and let them handle situations instead of you trying to be in the middle which may result in you getting hurt too.

-You can find more specific tips online and are advised to do so.

God Bless,

Natalie

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Top Gun is one of my favorite movies…

Happy Friday friends,

I hope that you are preparing for a great weekend. Many people flock to the movie theaters on the weekends to catch the latest film. Some prefer a nicer theatre and some don’t mind the “dollar theatre” where their feet stick to the floor. Growing up, I remember loving the movie Top Gun, partly maybe because my dad has a mustache like the character Goose. Of course the other characters weren’t too bad to look at either and I loved the female star b/c my natural hair looks just like hers curly and goofy…which is not in style like it was then…As a good parent now, I force my children to listen to the Top Gun anthem every time we go across the bridge to the beach where we visit frequently…They like it now and are very talented at playing their air guitars and drums.

So why am I referencing movies today. Well most people love a good story, get swept away for a minute in a strange world on screen, and much more. Our world is full of gifted actors, actresses, directors, screen writers, musicians, artists, camera people, etc… it truly is amazing. However, in real life our stories don’t quite play out as they do in the movies. One of the things I like to encourage my clients to do when making major life choices is to try to “play the movie” in their minds. It is a technique described by Dr. Henry Cloud in the book “9 Simple steps to succeed in love and life”.

For example:

-You struggle with overeating: when you sit down to eat, play out in your mind how you will feel if you overindulge. will you feel miserable? Thinking about the scene ahead of time can be helpful in making a better choice and choosing a better ending.

-You are considering cheating: play the movie, how will this end?consider how this one thing will play out in your life. Play it out all the way to the end of your life and story.

-You are considering giving up on a career: How will this scene fit into your movie?

-You are an alcoholic, play the movie of what drinking has done to your life and if you continue drinking what it will do to you long term.

-You are struggling to save money, play the movie of how if you save a little now, how it’ll pay off years down the road.

-Sometimes it is helpful to play out good and bad potential scenarios to make sure we are in a position to handle what comes our way.

-Playing the movie technique is worth a try in all areas: Parenting, marriage, preparing for death even. Try it…

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Fear and boobs: version 2.0

What are your biggest fears? They are likely not the same as they were when you were a child. When I was a little girl, my wonderful parents (who still haven’t read my blog, I will use that in a blog on humility vs. narcism later on… 🙂 )… let me watch a show where a bear broke in a cabin of a family and harmed the family. As a result, I had nightmares about bears for a long time after that episode. I overcame this fear by going camping with a friend b/c I loved her and her family. As a teenager, I was afraid of cobras (I realize this is not a popular snake in NC, but it was still scary to me). I overcame this fear by being thrown off of a golf cart on the wrong side of a lake at a church youth camp. Good times, and lots of laughs in the end.

Facing fears often has a way of alleviating anxiety whether you do so by imagining a certain event happening and planning for worst case scenario or whether you actually face the fear. Probably the biggest fear I’ve faced wasn’t one I realized I had until it happened. Last year, I found a lump in my breast that my OBGYN was concerned about. Over a period of a month and 1/2 I was poked at, prodded at, and felt up more than I was during my dating years…(If my parents do read this, I promise it wasn’t that much…) I wasn’t afraid of cancer and dying. I was afraid of leaving my children because they are so young. They have a wonderful father, but I didn’t want them to grow up without a mother.

New Image is me and my mom from this year’s conference with TC Stallings from the movie the War Room. I highly recommend it.

New addition to this story: for those who know me, they also likely know the story that goes with my breast lump scare…I was at a conference for christian counselors (2013) and I was crying during one of the speakers who was speaking about his wife dying of breast cancer. Often times, we think the worst when we get bad news…After the speaker, a lady came up to me noticing my ugly swollen cry face and asked if she could pray with me. “Of course!” I said and told her what was going on, so as we bowed our heads and prayed she also put her hand on my breast to pray for my boob…Of course since I’m normally very silly, my tears turned into an inner giggle. I’m not opposed to people laying their hands on one another and praying together, but I don’t recommend a private body part. My mom said, thank God you didn’t have a cervical cancer scare. LOL. God loves me and knows I need this humorous moment. I know that lady didn’t mean anything but to be helpful, however, it was awkward and funny to me but God answered her prayers and am healthy!

This is a scary thing as a mother, but I had to face it in theory. Thankfully, everything checked out ok and apparently I just have weird lumpy boobs. Too bad the lumps aren’t bigger…:) just kidding.

Here are a few healthy ways I’ve found to deal with fears:

-Prepare yourself for worst case scenario but live like the best case has happened. For example, If you fear death and leaving a family behind, have a will, life insurance policy, family/friends who are willing to help with your children. Live today and have fun with those around you.

-Think like a statistician: I’ve heard it said that 90% of things you worry about never come true.

-Transition your thoughts: Start thinking about others more than yourself. Does a neighbor need help with a home project? Can you volunteer somewhere? Get busy doing for others and you’ll be amazed how much you don’t even have time to sit and worry about your own fears.

-Treat everyday as if it were the last in some ways: don’t call in sick and go bungee jumping but tell your family you love them, be kind to everyone, stop complaining, forgive others and/or ask for forgiveness.

-Lastly, for me personally, my belief in God encourages me by verses such as “Do not be afraid, for the Lord your God is with you.”(1Chron 28:20) “Be strong and courageous…” (Deut 31:6)

Have a great week!

Natalie