Hi there, I’m Naomi. When I was 19, I helped edit and write a book about emotions and following Jesus. In 2022, I got to present the the National Youth Gathering in Houston. I’m currently a nursing student and studying Spanish. Thanks for visiting!
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From the Next Step blog
More About Naomi
As a future nurse, I love volunteering with the Luke Clinic when I am not at work in the hospital or in school. In my free time, I like to journal, dance, scroll through TikTok, and spend time with my boyfriend, friends, and family.
Books I helped write
Who knew I would end up as a published author? One minute, my dad was asking for our family’s input on taking a step toward full-time content creation, the next I’m blogging for the Next Step Community and helping to design, write, and edit a book! I have contributed to all of the books below.
National Youth Gathering Tools
I had a blast presenting to around 1800 youth in three breakout sessions at the 2022 LCMS National Youth Gathering in Houston, TX. I wanted to support the wonderful people who joined me in trying to follow Jesus in every emotion. So we created this web page as a resource in practicing emotional processing. Whether you saw me in Houston or not, I encourage you to try out the tools below. As part of Next Step Press, I am thrilled when I get to help someone take a small next step in their journey with Jesus and with themselves.
Emotion Word List
Naming, recognizing, and talking about emotions can be really hard. And it is even harder when you don’t have the language to even start to describe your experiences. The emotion word list is a tool we can use as a starting place to expanding the language we use to name the emotions we are experiencing. This is a tool first created by Breathe Life Ministries. The pdf download included below is the version presented at the 2022 National Youth Gathering.
The Emotion Wheel
Talking about and naming emotions is hard. It becomes even harder when we don’t have the right words to name those emotions. The Emotion Wheel is an excellent tool to use when naming emotions. It allows you to start with very broad emotions and move to a more specific term. Doing this can help you to better understand and talk about your emotions which, in turn, can help you process those emotions better.
The Spiritual MRI from Breathe Life Ministries
Our physical and mental health are connected. We hold emotions and experience emotions in different parts of our bodies. This tool from Breathe Life Ministries is a helpful way to scan your body, like an MRI, for emotions and thoughts that are held and experiences in different parts of your body. Knowing how your physical body plays a role in your emotions and mental health can be a very powerful tool in emotional processing and understanding. I encourage you to explore this exercise and what your body is telling you.
Use this download to process by yourself, or better yet, with a friend!
This version of the Spiritual MRI can be found in My Next Step: A How-To Companion for People Who Want to Fallow Jesus (But Sometimes Get Stuck), Volume 1, Getting Started from Next Step Press.
The RAIN-ing with Jesus Meditation
The RAIN meditation is an exercise in self-compassion created by Tara Brach, Ph.D. I find this meditation particularly helpful when I am working through a strong emotion or I am curious to dive deeper into the emotion or situation I am experiencing. Tara Brach has blogs and YouTube videos to lead you through this meditation. I like to walk through these with her and invite Jesus into the meditation with me. Linked below are a couple of Brach’s resources relating to this meditation as well as my blog, RAIN-ing with Jesus.
“Explore Your Experience” excerpt from The Emotional Devotional
Explore Your Experience
In The Emotional Devotional, we talk about 36 different emotions. There are countless more emotions that humans experience (let alone teenagers!). You can follow the pattern we used in that book by downloading this brief template. This process can help you identify your own emotions and write about them. I love writing to figure out what I am feeling and talking to Jesus about what is going on in my life.
Try using this template as an experiment. Invite Jesus to guide your heart throughout this process, and see if writing helps you identify and experience your emotions. Now, here’s what to do with the template.
1. Name Your Emotion
The first step to writing about your emotions is to figure out what emotions you are feeling. In Section 1, Gabriella Wiechman gives a wonderful introduction on how to use the Emotion Wheel on the front cover of this book. That’s an excellent tool to zoom in on the specific emotion you are feeling. You can also do a simple Google search to find a list of emotions or a different Emotion Wheel that may suit you better.
Start with the most generic emotions, like “angry” or “joyful.” Then get more specific from there. You might not have the right word for what you are feeling; that’s okay. You can still describe the emotion somehow. Remember that many emotions come in combinations, so it’s okay to say you are Proud/Nervous or Exhausted/Grateful. Emotions are confusing and even conflicting at times. If you want, you can even make up a new name for what you’re feeling! You aren’t trying to get the “right answer”. You are just trying to label your emotion in a way you would recognize. Having a name for your emotion allows you to feel it and process it in helpful ways.
After you have decided what emotion you want to write about, describe the emotion. This helps you to verify the emotion you are experiencing. It also gives you a chance to identify some emotional landmarks that can help you recognize this emotion in the future.
On a personal note: I found it helpful to include some other emotions that typically accompany the target emotion. Because we experience multiple emotions at once, this helps clear up some confusion that may come with assuming everything you’re feeling is the product of a single emotion.
2. Listen to Your Body
One key part of the emotion description is to identify where you feel it in your body. Our body and mind are very interconnected. In times of severe stress and anxiety, your body produces adrenaline and prepares for either fight or flight. When you have been experiencing extreme emotions for a prolonged amount of time, you may get sick or extremely exhausted in response. Excitement can keep you up at night.
It’s not just emotional extremes that get expressed in physical ways. It may be that all of your emotions have a home someplace in your body. Listen to what your body is telling you. Do your arms feel heavy? Are your cheeks red? Do your toes tingle? Is your stomach nervous, or sick, or full of butterflies? Where do you experience different emotions in different places in your body?
On a personal note: It can be hard at first to figure out what physical reactions and emotions go together. It is important to recognize that the same physical reaction may indicate a different emotion or vice versa. To help identify my personal physical reactions, I close my eyes and remember a time I felt a specific emotion. As I imagine myself in that emotion, I pay attention to the ghost of the physical symptoms in my present body.
3. Find a Bible Verse and People Like Me
The focus of this book is to follow Jesus in your emotions. Having a Bible verse about the emotion you are experiencing right now is a helpful guide to bringing Jesus into it. The Bible verse does not have to apply directly to you and your unique situation. If it had to apply exactly, we would never find one that did the job. In this book, we often tried to find a verse that explicitly named the emotion we were talking about. This helped focus the devotion on the emotion rather than getting distracted by the Bible story or other emotions involved.
As you search for a verse you are satisfied with, keep an open mind to other verses. There may be a perfect verse out there for your emotion, and there may only be an okay verse. Read multiple verses in multiple translations and invite Jesus to guide your mind to the right verse for you.
Finding a person from the Bible who experienced this emotion was also a helpful way of talking about the emotion. This allowed us to see that we are not the first people to experience the emotion and a reminder that we certainly won’t be the last. The verse doesn’t always come from the People Like Me story, but it very well can. If you are stuck, this could be a good way for you to expand your choices.
On a personal note: For almost every one of the Bible verses I found, I used the search tool on the Bible Gateway app. It allowed me to search an emotion by name and get results that both had the emotion in it and verses related to the emotion. You can also search more than one translation at the same time! Check it out at biblegateway.com.
4. Share Your Story
Sharing your unique story and your experience with the emotion gives you a chance to reflect on what happened with Jesus. This was my favorite part to write because I got to express my experiences and emotions in a way that was helpful to other girls as well as inviting them to see Jesus, even in their darkest times.
While I am usually pretty comfortable sharing my personal story, I know this is not the case for everyone. If you have trouble bringing others into your experiences, rest in the assurance that no one else has to read what you write unless you show it to them. Just like in the other sections, invite Jesus to be present in this experience. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide your heart and mind as you share your story.
On a personal note: While this was my favorite part, it was also the hardest part for me. If I got stuck while writing or couldn’t come up with a good flow, I would take a few deep breaths and just write what I remembered. This allowed me to write without the pressure of having a format to the story. Just share your story. If you want, you can always go back and reformat it.
5. Invite Jesus
This book has been focused on bringing Jesus into your present emotion regardless of the circumstance around it. You don’t need to “fix” your emotions, and there’s no simple answer for how you should deal with them.
You can write out a simple, honest prayer expressing what you are feeling. Don’t try to use only church words; just be yourself and talk like you. Jesus loves the real you, no matter what you are thinking or feeling right now.
If you aren’t sure what to say, go back to Section 1 of The Emotional Devotional and try some of the Prayer Experiments there. Or make a list of words that are rattling around in your head and heart. Or draw a rough sketch of what you are feeling. Or copy some song lyrics that capture what you are feeling. Or write your own song. Or use prayers from the Bible as inspiration. (The Psalms are a great place to start!)
The point is, find some way to invite Jesus into what you are feeling. If you’re stuck, pray: “Jesus, I don’t know how to invite You into this, and I’m not sure I want to.” Jesus is glad to hear that prayer. As you keep at it, turning your attention to Jesus in the midst of your emotions will start to seem normal. That habit will help you find your way forward with Jesus, even when your emotions seem confusing or out of control.
On a personal note: When I read the devotions in this book by these amazing girls that I love, it almost seems like they have it all together and are almost too good to be true. But I know them; and I know me. We aren’t that good at this. We are struggling to find a way forward. We doubt, and we forget, and we fail. And Jesus is faithful. I can’t tell you how many times my prayer life has been little more than, “Dear Jesus, Ahhhhhhh!!!!” And sometimes, it’s not even that. But one thing I have learned, and keep learning: When you bring your emotions to Jesus, or invite Jesus into your emotions, it doesn’t matter if you don’t have it all together. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know what to say. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t faithful in prayer. Jesus is faithful. Always. And that’s enough.
If you found any help or comfort reading about our experiences in this book, just imagine how other girls might benefit from hearing what Jesus is up to in your life! On this journey of faith, everyone has something to learn and something to share.
Email us your story at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We follow Jesus better when we follow Him together, so we’ll look for ways to share your story with other people. You can write about one of the emotions on our Emotion Wheel that we didn’t cover or choose any emotion you want! It’s up to you.
Use the templates provided or choose your own format or process. Run an experiment and see what works. But find some way to invite Jesus into your emotions. Jesus loves to be with you, whatever you are feeling!
Mood Trackers from The Emotional Devotional
Mood tracking can be a useful tool to find patterns in your emotions and moods. For women especially, this can be helpful to see how our cycles and different hormones can affect our emotions. For anyone, mood tracking can show patterns in common emotions and moods you experience at certain events or with certain people. I know this tactic has helped me to identify places in my relationships where I need to set better boundaries for my mental and emotional health. I encourage you to explore what mood and emotional tracking looks like for you and how it might be helpful in your journey for healthy emotional processing! Linked below is a download that includes a couple of the mood trackers from The Emotional Devotional. You are more than welcome to use these or you can make your own or simply use a blank journal to take a few notes from the day as a part of your bedtime routine.
Linked below is a pdf download of the slideshow presentation used at the National Youth Gathering.
Slideshow Presentation pdf